Rand Paul: Russian delegation to visit Capitol Hill

Rand Paul: Russian delegation to visit Capitol Hill

Paul met for an hour with Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Russian Federal Council Committee on Foreign Affairs.

In a statement released by his office, Paul emphasized that "engagement is vital to our national security and peace around the world".

"I think this is incredibly important, " Paul said after the high-profile sit-down.

US Senator Rand Paul will today become the latest member of Congress to travel to Russian Federation as part of President Trump's efforts to reengage with Moscow. "We also agreed to try to organize a meeting in a neutral, third country", the Kentucky senator told reporters.

Prior to his trip to Russia, Paul wrote in an op-ed for Politico that he'd scheduled the trip partly to "help prevent further, unnecessary escalation of tensions".

"They use the anti-Russian campaign purely for internal American purposes, the interests of the same elections campaign they are charging us with meddling in", Kosachev said.

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The Republican senator and ally of US President Donald Trump said he had travelled to the Russian capital to encourage diplomacy amid tense relations between Moscow and Washington. Paul was one of the few Republicans who defended the president in the resulting backlash.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, after the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Putin ordered efforts to undermine Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and aid Trump.

Paul is a key supporter of Trump's controversial interactions with Putin, heralding the leaders' Helsinki summit last month as exactly the sort of action Washington should be taking to mend ties between the two.

Paul suggested he did not believe raising the issue of election interference would have been productive in his meetings with Russian officials.

USA intelligence agencies say Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 United States presidential election to try to tilt the race in Trump's favour, an assertion Moscow rejects, and the two countries are also at odds over Syria and Ukraine.

"We had general discussions about a lot of issues and basically we've decided that, right now, what we're trying to do is have dialogue", he said.

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