| 27 May 2024, Monday |

Lavrov, Blinken agree to meet in Iceland next week

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his American counterpart Antony Blinken have agreed to meet in the Icelandic capital next week, amid heightened tensions between the two Cold War rivals.

On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the two top diplomats, in a phone conversation, had discussed their upcoming meeting on the sidelines of the 12th Arctic Council Ministerial in Reykjavik next week.

“The sides discussed the timeline of other Russian-US contacts for the upcoming period, including Washington’s proposal on the organization of the Russia-US summit,” the statement said, according to the TASS news agency.

The meeting, which is scheduled to be held on May 20, marks the end of the two-year Icelandic Chairmanship of the Arctic Council and the beginning of the Russian Federation’s Chairmanship for the years 2021-2023.

“Lavrov and Blinken agreed to hold a separate meeting on the sidelines of the [May 20] session to review key issues of bilateral relations and the international agenda,” the Russian Foreign Ministry added.

The ministry also noted that the two sides also “exchanged opinions on approaches to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and reviewing tasks on strategic stability.”

According to the statement, Lavrov and Blinken also discussed ongoing efforts to revive Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The JCPOA has been in disarray since May 2018, when then-US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal and re-imposed the anti-Iran sanctions that the UN-endorsed deal had lifted.

In a statement, the US State Department confirmed the phone contact between the two sides and added that Blinken provided his Russian counterpart with an overview of Washington’s policy toward North Korea.

Relations between the US and Russia have been strained over allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 and 2020 US presidential elections as well as the Ukrainian conflict.

Ties between the two Cold War foes hit a new low in March after US President Joe Biden said in an interview that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin was a “killer” and that he would have to “pay a price” for interference in the 2020 US presidential election.

Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusations of interference in US elections.