Republican Senator Rand Paul has delivered a letter from President Donald Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin, AP/TIME informs. Paul, who defended Trump regarding his meeting with Putin last month in Helsinki, has been visiting Russia with a delegation for several days.
According to Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin has not yet examined the letter Paul presented. “We expect that in the nearest time it will come to the presidential administration,” Peskov noted.
The Kentucky Republican said on Twitter that “the letter emphasized the importance of further engagement in various areas, including countering terrorism, enhancing legislative dialogue and resuming cultural exchanges.”
However, the White House later released its own statement, stressing that the letter was “introductory” and written at the request of Paul. “At Sen. Paul’s request, President Trump provided a letter of introduction. In the letter, the President mentioned topics of interest that Senator Paul wanted to discuss with President Putin,l” Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement.
According to CNN, Paul wanted this letter from Trump in hopes of setting up a meeting with Putin during his trip to Moscow this week. The topics that Paul said were included in the letter are things the Kentucky Senator wished to discuss with Putin, not topics Trump asked him to raise with Putin, a White House official told CNN.
“I would like to introduce Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a voice for expanding dialogue with the Russian Federation. He will be in Moscow from August 5 to August 8.” the letter reads, per CNN.
“Senator Paul would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss several topics. He is interested in legislative exchanges, parliamentary dialogue and cultural and educational exchange programs, increased counter-terrorism cooperation, building on recent successes like the disruption of the St. Petersburg plot and resolution of the military conflicts in Syria and Ukraine,” the letter continues.
Paul, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met earlier in the week in Moscow with members of Russia’s upper house of parliament and invited them to Washington. “My goal in coming to Russia is to say that we want to have open lines of communication,” Paul said after the meeting, ABC News adds.