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Putin meets Pompeo as US seeks ‘way forward’ in ties

The Kremlin on Tuesday slammed Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, ahead of President Vladimir Putin receiving US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the highest-level US-Russian talks in nearly a year.

US President Donald Trump’s top diplomat, who arrived in the sunny Black Sea resort of Sochi late Tuesday, was to meet with Putin to see if Russia and Washington can make headway on a raft of disagreements from arms control to the raging Venezuela and Iran crises.

Pompeo’s visit to Russia — his first as Secretary of States — came as tensions mounted dangerously in the Gulf, with Iran and the United States engaged in a new war of words over Teheran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Saudi Arabia has said four ships in the Gulf, including two of its oil tankers, suffered “sabotage” on Sunday, and on Tuesday it shut down a major oil pipeline after a drone attack on it by Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen.

Pompeo is the highest-ranking US official to see Putin since July when Trump met him in Helsinki and stunned the US political establishment by appearing to accept the Russian leader’s statement at face value that he did not meddle in the US election, contrary to US intelligence evaluations.

“On some issues we may agree, on others we may disagree, but when it’s in our national interests, it is our responsibility to find a way forward,” Pompeo tweeted.

Putin was expected to receive Pompeo later Tuesday after the latter held talks and a dinner with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

Pompeo was greeted on arrival by the mayor of Sochi, with whom he exchanged pleasantries on the tarmac.

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