Russia and the US are considering a fresh presidential meeting between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, the Russian foreign minister said on Thursday.
The schedule of the presidential contact is being discussed at ministerial and deputies’ levels, Sergey Lavrov said at a news conference in Minsk following a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
"There is an absolutely obvious mutual aspiration to develop such contacts. When we reach mutually acceptable terms, we will certainly inform you, and it will be done by the presidential administration," Lavrov said.
Speaking at the Russian Energy Week in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday, Putin said US high-ranking diplomat Victoria Nuland discussed organizing a new presidential summit during her visit to Moscow this week.
"The Under Secretary of State is currently in Moscow. She and her Russian colleagues are discussing details of our further contacts with Biden," Putin had said.
'Timely, helpful' visit by US diplomat
Nuland's visit was "helpful and timely," according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who said in a separate statement that the sides have "ultimately frank talks without smoothing things over."
Diplomatic work and issues were on the top of the agenda, she said at a press conference on the sidelines of the Third Eurasian Women's Forum in Saint Petersburg.
Zakharova recalled that Nuland's visit became possible after the US granted a visa to a Russian diplomat heading to the UN.
"He (the Russian diplomat) was refused a US visa although he was going not to the US, but to the UN, which is located in the US. It is very important. The United States has obligations as the host country of the international structure to ensure the normal work of both this structure and its employees and representatives of countries that interact with each other on the UN platform.
"Issuing visas to those foreign diplomats, public figures, and experts who arrive at the UN headquarters in New York to work and participate in conferences and symposiums are a direct responsibility of the United States. It should not depend on bilateral relations or on any other factors in US policy," Zakharova stressed.
Refusing the Russian diplomat a visa, Washington violated its obligations, she added.
And although this situation has been resolved, it is necessary to remove all restrictions that are imposed on a reciprocal basis so that embassies and consulates can work normally, the spokeswoman stated.
Russia says ready for contacts at all levels
"Following consultations with (Russian) Deputy Minister Sergey Ryabkov, which were also attended by (Russian) Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin, as well as following conversations with other Russian officials, it can be stated that despite the continuing crisis potential in bilateral relations, Moscow and Washington share the desire to maintain dialogue in order to give bilateral relations greater stability and predictability. In this context, further escalation in the Russian direction can only further aggravate the confrontation between our countries," she said.
Nuland was told about Russia's readiness to establish contacts at all levels in accordance with the agreements of the presidents of Russia and the US, Zakharova also said.
"As a positive example, the successfully developing dialogue on strategic stability and interaction in the field of information security was mentioned. The Russian side also stressed that there is no alternative to a balanced approach that meets the new geopolitical realities based on the principles of equality and consideration of each other's interests," she said.
Nuland arrived in Moscow on Monday. During her three-day visit, she met with a number of Russian top officials, including Ryabkov, presidential assistant for international affairs Yury Ushakov, and deputy head of the presidential administration Dmitry Kozak.
Following the visit, Jason Rebholz, spokesperson for the US Embassy in Moscow, said on Twitter that Nuland "appreciated the frank, productive review of US-Russia relations with Deputy Head of Presidential Administration Ushakov."