At the Arctic Council, Washington lifts sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 company

It’s the dress rehearsal, a month before a possible summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Poutin. No date for this first meeting between the American president and the head of the Kremlin was given, Wednesday, May 19, at the end of the talks in Reykjavik between Antony Blinken and Sergei Lavrov. But, in the Icelandic capital, on the sidelines of the Arctic Council, the US Secretary of State and the Russian Foreign Minister have paved the way for this first bilateral meeting. While relations between the two countries are at their lowest since the end of the Cold War, it is expected to take place in mid-June, in a third country in Europe, no doubt in the wake of Joe Biden’s meetings with the leaders. of the G7 and NATO.

“We are ready to discuss all issues, without exception, provided the discussion is honest, with the facts on the table, and based on mutual respect.”, explained Sergey Lavrov, greeting “Constructive discussions” with its counterpart. “Russia and the United States understand the need to put an end to the unhealthy climate formed between Moscow and Washington in recent years”, he insisted after this late interview of nearly two hours on Wednesday.

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Antony Blinken, he called his wishes “A stable and predictable relationship” and, “Despite many differences”, was optimistic: “If the leaders of Russia and the United States can work cooperatively, the world will be a safer place. “ He also warned: “If Russia behaves aggressively against us, our partners or our allies, we will respond. “

Openness, but firmness

Between the lines, the message on both sides is therefore clear: openness, but firmness. Antony Blinken and Sergey Lavrov, who met for the first time since the election of Joe Biden, remained sober and courteous, without offensive unpacking or excess of enthusiasm. “They know each other well and know how to find a common language. Between the two ministers, diplomacy professionals, the current will undoubtedly pass better than between Joe Biden and Vladimir Poutine, assures Andreï Kortounov, director of the Russian Council think tank in Moscow. For the moment, it’s all about signals… ”

In this carefully staged choreography, Washington made a gesture, taking advantage of the ministerial meeting to remove a topic of tension from the menu of the presidential summit: the Biden administration lifted the sanctions against the company in charge of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and against its general manager.

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