Russia Says Lavrov, Kerry May Hold March Talks After Missed Call

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov may meet Secretary of State John Kerry in March, Interfax cited a top Russian diplomat as saying, after the U.S. said Lavrov hadn’t returned his counterpart’s call for three days.

The two officials have busy international schedules and it isn’t yet clear when they’ll find time to meet, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in an interview with the Moscow-based news service published today.

Kerry, who became the top U.S. diplomat this month, first tried to call his Russian opposite number on Feb. 12 and Lavrov still hadn’t got back in contact three days later, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said yesterday. The Russian foreign minister has been on an African tour.

Russia’s ties with the U.S. have soured in recent years, with the rift worsening after disagreements over Syria and American efforts to promote democracy in Russia. Lavrov also declined last January to take a call from Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, while he was in Australia.

“The secretary would like to talk to him,” Nuland said. “It’s up to him whether he wants to take that opportunity.”

Kerry said Jan. 24 that the U.S. and Russia have “some ground to make up” after a Russian decision to bar Americans from adopting orphans from Russia in retaliation for U.S. human rights sanctions. “Hopefully we can get the relationship with Russia back to a place” as it “slid backward for the last couple of years,” he said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich denied yesterday that Lavrov had snubbed Kerry, explaining that his “busy schedule” in Africa had made it impossible to hold phone talks on Feb. 12. Since then, Kerry hadn’t been in touch again, Lukashevich said.

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