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US, Russian ministers to discuss Venezuela in Finland next week

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting his Venezuelan counterpart before talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Rovaniemi.

Mike Pompeo ja Sergei Lavrov
Mike Pompeo and Sergei Lavrov are due to meet in Finnish Lapland early next week. Image: AOP/ EPA / ITAR-Tass

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting with his Venezuelan opposite number on Sunday ahead of talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Rovaniemi early next week.

Lavrov is scheduled to sit down with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza on Sunday in Moscow, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

International crisis talks in Lapland

The Venezuelan crisis will be on the agenda when Lavrov holds talks with Pompeo on the sidelines of the 11th Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council.

The two-day meeting begins on Monday in Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland.

The two countries are on opposing sides in the political standoff in the Latin American state. Russia supports President Nicolás Maduro, while the US and many other countries – including Finland – support opposition leader and former National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself interim president.

As tension increased after May Day marches in Caracas, US President Donald Trump and Russia's Vladimir Putin discussed Venezuela in a phone call on Friday.

US "sought to remove mention of climate change"

Meanwhile the Washington Post reported on Thursday that President Donald Trump's administration tried to remove references to climate change from an Arctic Council declaration on Arctic policy that Pompeo is expected to sign next week.

According to the paper, this "threatened a standoff in which the US would not sign onto a statement that included climate discussion and other members would not agree to a version that left it out". It quoted an official familiar with the preparations for the meeting as saying that Washington had "indicated its resistance to any mention of climate change whatsoever".

Finland has made climate change and other environmental concerns key themes of its two-year term as chair of the Arctic Council, which ends this month.

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