Russia hopes Tillerson's visit will lead to improved ties

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Russia voiced hope Wednesday that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's planned visit next week will help improve relations between the former Cold War foes.

Russia voiced hope Wednesday that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's planned visit next week will help improve relations between the former Cold War foes.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Tillerson's talks next Wednesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will focus on the fight against terrorism, various regional conflicts including Syria and Ukraine, tensions around North Korea and nuclear arms control.

The U.S. State Department said Tillerson will meet with Lavrov and other Russian officials to "discuss Ukraine, counterterrorism efforts, bilateral relations and other issues, including the DPRK (North Korea) and Syria."

"This trip is part of our effort to maintain direct lines of communication with senior Russian officials and to ensure U.S. views are clearly conveyed, including on next steps in Minsk implementation," the department said, referring to a 2015 Minsk peace agreement for eastern Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry blamed Barack Obama's administration for a "deep crisis" in Russia-U.S. relations and said Russia welcomes the Trump administration's declared intention to mend the rift.

"From our side, we are open to cooperation in various fields on the basis of equality, non-interference in domestic affairs and respect for mutual interests," it said in a statement.

The Kremlin has been encouraged by President Donald Trump's promises to improve relations. However, hopes for an early thaw have been dashed by the congressional investigation of possible links between his campaign and Russia.

"We hope that the visit of the new U.S. secretary of state will help take the U.S.-Russian relations on a steady growth trajectory and increase the level of mutual understanding," the ministry said. "It wouldn't only answer the interests of our peoples, but also the entire world."

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