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Russian and U.S. diplomats meet in Istanbul – Russian deputy minister


(Reuters) -Diplomats from Russia and the United States met in Istanbul on Friday to discuss a number of technical issues in the bilateral relationship, Russian state news agencies reported Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.

The TASS agency said the two sides would discuss “difficult questions” including visas, embassy staffing levels and the work of each side’s institutions and agencies abroad, among other unspecified issues.

Ryabkov said the meeting was between heads of department from the Russian Foreign Ministry and the U.S. State Department – a relatively low level. He said it was a technical meeting and should not be seen as a sign the two sides were ready to resume discussing “major issues”.

Both the Russian embassy in Washington and the U.S. embassy in Moscow have been cut back significantly in recent years in a series of tit-for-tat expulsions that have seen dozens of Russian and U.S. diplomats sent back to their home countries.

Russian foreign intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin and U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns met in the Turkish capital Ankara on Nov. 14 in the highest-level face-to-face contact between the two sides since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

But at the end of November, Russia pulled out of a planned meeting in Cairo to discuss resuming nuclear weapons inspections under the framework of the New START treaty.

Moscow blamed Washington for the last-minute cancellation, saying the Russian side had had no choice but to cancel after the United States said it was unwilling to discuss a broader agenda of “strategic stability” at the talks.