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U.S. senator Rand Paul invites Russian lawmakers to Washington

U.S. senator Rand Paul invites Russian lawmakers to Washington

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and USA senator Rand Paul discussed bilateral relations and arms control issues on Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Kentucky Republican, who is leading a legislative delegation in the country this week, met with Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs. Today, I met with Chairman Kosachev, and we agreed on the importance of continued dialogue.

US Senator Rand Paul will today become the latest member of Congress to travel to Russian Federation as part of President Trump's efforts to reengage with Moscow. The panel is the Russian counterpart to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, on a trip that The Washington Post described as "a bid to increase engagement with the country".

"We know you as an authoritative, independent American politician", Kosachev told Paul as they began their meeting, saying his visit was "especially valuable given the attitudes of other American politicians", who he said presented any contact with Russian officials as "toxic".

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The senator, once a foe of the president, has emerged as a unique and somewhat renegade voice, coming as both Republicans and Democrats criticize Trump for not taking a tougher stance against Russian Federation.

With Putin by his side, Trump questioned US intelligence findings that Russians had meddled in elections and called investigations into the matter a "disaster for our country".

The senator was one of Trump's most vocal supporters in Washington last month when the United States president came under fire for his handling of a summit with President Vladimir Putin.

He was one of the very few on Capitol Hill to defend Trump after the Helsinki summit.

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It was "opposition research", Trump said, not collusion.

Paul said that Russian officials would discuss nuclear non-proliferation and combatting terrorism in Washington.

"We had general discussions about a lot of issues", Paul responded.

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