U.S. congressmen meet Russian officials in St. Petersburg

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks prior to a World Cup match between Russia and Saudi Arabia

US congressmen meet Russian officials in St. Petersburg

They first met Putin at the G20 summit in Germany past year, and spoke privately for over two hours accompanied only by translators, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., right, during his meeting with U.S. congressional delegation as U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. attends the talks in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, July 3, 2018.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to a post-Cold War low over issues including Russia's seizure of Crimea in March 2014, its role in wars in Syria and eastern Ukraine, and its alleged meddling into the 2016 US presidential election.

"We recognize that the world is better off, I believe, if Russia and the USA have fewer tensions, get along a little better, maybe put aside some differences", Senator Richard Shelby said during Tuesday's meeting with Lavrov at the Russian foreign ministry. "We hope for a honest discussion of all problems clouding our relations with the US", Lavrov told a news conference.

Russian President Vladimir Putin would be comfortable holding a one-on-one meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at their upcoming summit in Helsinki, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday. "We could be competitors - we are competitors - but we don't necessarily need to be adversaries".

He also said that Moscow hopes to discuss all issues clouding bilateral relations at the Russia-US summit in Helsinki. "We will have to wait and see".

A USA congressional delegation was in Moscow on Tuesday meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian parliamentarians.

The senators then met with representatives of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. Persistent U.S. accusations that Trump and his campaign colluded with Russian Federation in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential elections and differing views over global affairs, such as conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, have divided the two leaders, however.

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