U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, top center, walks past Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi Thursday, March 2, 2023. (Olivier Douliery/Pool Photo via AP)
NEW DELHI (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met briefly Thursday at a meeting of top diplomats from the Group of 20 nations in the first high-level meeting in months between the two countries.
U.S. officials said Blinken and Lavrov chatted for roughly 10 minutes on the sidelines of the G-20 conference in New Delhi. The short encounter came as relations between Washington and Moscow have plummeted while tensions over Russia’s war with Ukraine have soared.
A senior U.S. official said Blinken used the discussion to make three points to Lavrov: that the U.S. would support Ukraine in the conflict for as long as it takes to bring the war to an end, that Russia should reverse its decision to suspend participation in the New START nuclear treaty and that Moscow should release detained American Paul Whelan.
The official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation, said Blinken had “disabused” Lavrov of any idea they might have that U.S. support for Ukraine is wavering.
The official declined to characterize Lavrov’s response but said Blinken did not get the impression that there would be any change in Russia’s behavior in the near term.
There was no immediate comment from Russia about the meeting, which is the first contact that Blinken and Lavrov have had since last summer, when they spoke by phone about a U.S. proposal for Russia to release Whelan and formerly detained WNBA star Brittney Griner.
Griner was later released in a swap for imprisoned Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout but Whelan remains detained in Russia after being accused of spying.
A “stable share” of Americans has participated in religious services in some way – virtually or in person – during the coronavirus pandemic, though in-person attendance is slightly lower than before the COVID-19 outbreak.
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