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U.S., Russia To Begin Talks Aimed At Improving Relations Next Week

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov

Talks between high-level U.S. and Russia diplomats aimed at improving relations will begin next week, the State Department said on May 5.

Thomas Shannon, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, will travel to New York on May 8 to meet Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov "to discuss a range of bilateral issues," the department said.

The meeting will mark the start of a dialogue that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed to last month in Moscow.

The working group headed by Shannon and Ryabkov is tasked with addressing festering irritants in the U.S.-Russia relationship that are hindering cooperation on larger issues, such as Syria and Ukraine.

Those irritants, described by Russia as "grievances," include concerns about the treatment of diplomats and ordinary citizens by police and judicial officials in the two countries.

Tillerson said the working group would look at "smaller issues and make progress toward stabilizing the relationship, so that we can then address the more serious problems."

In Moscow, Russia's state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Ryabkov as saying his meeting with Shannon would cover "questions connected to the normal functioning of diplomatic representations in both countries."

With reporting by AP
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