USA senators, on Moscow trip, invite Russian lawmakers to Washington

Rand Paul

Marking the second U.S. congressional delegation to Moscow in a month - Senator Richard Shelby and a group of USA lawmakers held talks with senior Russian officials in July - Paul said that part of the goal of his trip was to promote greater dialogue between Moscow and Washington.

In addition to the invitation to the U.S., Paul said he'd like to organize a larger, future meeting.

He said he opposed new sanctions legislation against Russia that was backed by a bipartisan group of US lawmakers last week, but said he represented a minority voice, Russian news agencies reported. "Today, I met with Chairman Kosachev, and we agreed on the importance of continued dialogue".

"Engagement is vital to our national security and peace around the world", Paul said.

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.

Paul headed a USA delegation, which includes member of the Texas State Senate Don Huffines and representatives of the Cato Institute, a public policy research organization.

Paul, known for some of his unorthodox positions in the Senate, has recently emerged as a champion of Trump's outreach to Russian Federation.

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There is unanimous agreement among USA intelligence agencies that the Russian government directed extensive influence operations to sow racial, political, and cultural division in the election.

In the days after the summit, Paul called the criticism partisan and overblown, saying it was too risky not to seek dialogue when relations were so tense.

Paul argued that "those who believe in either country that we should not have diplomacy are greatly mistaken".

"It does not mean that we have no differences, it does not mean that we will not, on occasion, have discussions back and forth where we disagree".

The "main aim of the trip" was to "create a dialogue" and "improve relations" between Moscow and Washington, Paul added. Trump later walked back the remark and said he trusted the US intelligence community's assessment Moscow did interfere. The bill would place restrictions on Russia's sovereign debt transactions, as well as oil and energy projects.

Kosachev said members of his committee are "ready to discuss this question in a reasoned manner" with U.S. counterparts.

"They use the anti-Russian campaign purely for internal American purposes, the interests of the same elections campaign they are charging us with meddling in", Kosachev said.

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