Pompeo to meet Putin in Sochi, skip Moscow leg

Reuters
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will cancel the Moscow leg of his Russia trip, but will meet President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi as planned today.
Reuters

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will cancel the Moscow leg of his Russia trip, but will meet President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Black Sea resort of Sochi as planned today, a State Department official said.

Pompeo, who departed from Joint Base Andrews near Washington en route for Brussels, was to hold talks with European officials on Iran and other issues yesterday before heading to Russia, the anonymous official added.

On Sunday, a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander said the US military presence in the Gulf used to be a serious threat but now represented a target, the Iranian Students’ News Agency said.

Forces sent by the US military to the Middle East include an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers, in a move United States officials said aimed at countering “clear indications” of threats from Iran to American forces in the region.

US President Donald Trump also has stepped up economic pressure on Iran, moving to cut off all its oil exports, to try to get Tehran to curb its nuclear and missile programs as well as end support for proxies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

Speaking to CNBC in an interview, Pompeo said the US deployments were in response to intelligence about potential attacks.

“In the event that Iran decided to come after an American interest — whether that be in Iraq or Afghanistan or Yemen or any place in the Middle East — we are prepared to respond in an appropriate way,” he said, adding: “Our aim is not war.”

Last week, European countries said they wanted to preserve Iran’s nuclear deal and rejected “ultimatums” from Tehran, after Iran eased curbs on its nuclear program and threatened moves that might breach the 2015 international pact.

Iran’s announcement last week, related to curbs on its stockpiling of nuclear materials, was in response to US sanctions imposed following Trump’s withdrawal from the accord with Tehran a year ago.

Pompeo had been due to meet US embassy staff business community members in Moscow today before heading to Sochi.

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