Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is lobbying President Donald Trump for the removal of top Russian officials from the U.S. sanctions list so they can travel to Washington D.C. to meet with their American counterparts, according to The Hill.
Paul said members of both bodies of Russia's legislature had agreed to come to the United States to continue talks after the GOP senator visited Moscow earlier this month.
"They have both agreed to come to Washington in the fall for further meetings. That's a good thing. The downside is the chairman of each of the committees is banned from coming to the United States because of sanctions," Paul told Fox News's Laura Ingraham.
Paul arranged to meet with Trump last weekend, at which time he intended to ask the president to "take people off the list who are in the legislature."
Though Paul didn’t specify which officials he would request be removed from the list, one official met with during his recent trip to Moscow — Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs — was caught up in a new round of sanctions earlier this year.
Kosachev indicated earlier this month that Moscow would be interested in organizing a meeting between members of the Russian legislature and their U.S. counterparts.
"The issue at hand is trying, perhaps, to organize a new meeting, this time at the level of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee during the autumn session, that is, before the end of this year," he told Russian state media at the time.
However, U.S. lawmakers appear more cold toward the notion of Russian officials heading to Washington for talks:
Spokesmen for both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told The Hill last week that they had not invited, and we're not discussing inviting, their Russian counterparts to visit the Capitol.
[A] spokeswoman for Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said an invitation had not been extended on behalf of the committee.