US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Russia against interference in the 2020 presidential election as he arrived in the country on Tuesday for talks with Vladimir Putin.
He said after three hours of talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that "interference in American elections is unacceptable and if the Russians were engaged in that in 2020 it would put our relationship in an even worse place than it has been."
“We would not tolerate that. Our elections are important and sacred and they must be free and fair,” he added.
However, both men struck a friendlier tone about broader cooperation between the United States and Russia after what they described as “frank” preliminary talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
“We had a frank discussion about many issues including many places where we disagree,” Pompeo said. “The US stands ready to find common ground with Russia.”
Lavrov said the Mueller report and “baseless” allegations of Putin-Trump collusion in the 2016 election had “frozen” the relationship.
“This was a frank and a useful conversation,” he said. “It is clear our relations have seen better times and there is a potential for mutually-beneficial cooperation and this largely remains untapped.”
He added: “We hope this tumultuous situation will die down and we can finally move on to building a more professional and constructive dialogue.”