Rand Paul says ‘big mistake’ not to have dialogue with Moscow, invites Russian MPs to DC

US senator Rand Paul called for increased dialogue with Moscow and invited a delegation of Russian lawmakers to Washington DC during the Republican’s visit to the Russian capital on Monday.

Paul announced that he had “invited members of the foreign affairs committee of Russia to come to the United States to meet with us in Washington,” after meeting with Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s upper house. The two sides are hoping to organize a meeting in a neutral, third country, the Kentucky lawmaker told reporters.

Marking the second US congressional delegation to Moscow in a month – Senator Richard Shelby and a group of US lawmakers held talks with senior Russian officials in July – Paul said that part of the purpose of his trip was to promote greater dialogue between Moscow and Washington.

“The world is a complicated place, we are in close proximity to Russia in Syria and other places, and I think it would be a very big mistake not to have open lines of communication,” Paul said, adding that the purpose of his trip was in part “to say that we need to have dialogue,” including “more cultural exchange, more exchange between our legislative bodies, more open lines of communication."

“I’ve traveled here to say that there are many Americans who want to have diplomacy, that want to have engagement, I’m one of them,” he added.

Kosachev said that while no plans have been finalized, “certain specific subjects in the development of this co-operation” had been addressed during Paul’s visit, adding that he hoped a meeting between the Senate and the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs could be held before the end of the year.

Paul is also slated to meet with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

The Kentucky senator has been an outspoken proponent for engagement with Moscow who voiced support for Donald Trump’s decision to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki last month. Paul said last week that his goal in coming to Moscow was to find “common ground with [Russian] leaders and help prevent further, unnecessary escalation of tensions.”

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