US urges Russia on Ukraine in one-on-one meeting at highest level since war


US Secretary of State Blinken had previously claimed that he would not meet the Russian minister. (File)

New Delhi:

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met briefly in New Delhi on Thursday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to pressurize him with Ukraine in the two countries’ highest one-on-one contact since the war.

Blinken met Lavrov less than 10 minutes on the sidelines of Group of 20 talks, a day after saying he had no plans to meet his Russian or Chinese counterparts, a senior US official said.

Blinken wanted to “discourage the Russians from any idea that might waver our support” for Ukraine, the official said, following growing support from European allies for peace initiatives.

Blinken wanted to “deliver that message directly” and also urged Russia to engage with Ukraine based on demands from President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“We always hope that the Russians will reverse their decision and be ready to engage in a diplomatic process that can lead to a just and lasting peace,” the official said.

“But I wouldn’t say there was any expectation after this meeting that things would change any time soon.”

Blinken also urged Russia to release Paul Whelan, a former US Marine who has been imprisoned since late 2018, and to reverse President Vladimir Putin’s recent decision to withdraw the New START nuclear treaty, the last arms control agreement between Cold War enemies. War, suspend, reverse.

Blinken told Lavrov that “the treaty is in the interest of both our countries and international security, as the world expects us to act responsibly when it comes to nuclear safety,” the official said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)

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