A series of Friday top-level exchanges between Russia and the United States has little chance of yielding significant progress on any key point of contention between the sides, including an entrenched dispute over Washington’s missile defense plans for Europe, U.S. government personnel told Reuters.
A lack of progress on the antimissile standoff fed into President Obama’s decision this week to back out of a planned September meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Moscow has demanded a legally enforceable guarantee that sophisticated U.S. interceptors slated for deployment in Europe would never be aimed at Russian strategic missiles. The Obama administration has spurned that request, saying it does not have the authority to make such a promise.
Still, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry will mount a new effort to clear up Moscow’s worries about the antimissile plans when they meet with their Russian counterparts on Friday, an U.S. government insider said.
The talks were under way as of Friday morning, the Associated Press reported. A morning exchange between Hagel and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was to be followed by a mid-day gathering of all four officials and an afternoon meeting between Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, AP reported separately on Friday.
One of Lavrov’s deputies said “the American ideas [on missile defense] and our concerns seem to exist in different dimensions, and we have so far been unable to find where they intersect,” Interfax reported on Wednesday.
“Without an agreement on antimissile defense which will dispel all our concerns, any further steps toward nuclear disarmament are impossible,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov added in remarks quoted on Wednesday by the Xinhua News Agency.
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The Democratic National Committee issued a formal apology to Bernie Sanders today, after leaked emails showed staffers trying to sabotage his presidential bid. "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email," DNC officials said in the statement. "These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process. The DNC does not—and will not—tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates."
The chairman of the DCCC said Debbie Wasserman Schultz won't be getting financial help from the organization this year, even as she faces a well-funded primary challenger. "Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) said the committee’s resources will be spent helping Democrats in tough races rather than those in seats that are strongholds for the party." Executive Director Kelly Ward added, “We never spend money in safe seats."
Debbie Wasserman Schultz has given up her last remaining duty at this week's convention. Now, she's told her hometown newspaper, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, that she will not gavel in the convention today. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will do the honors instead. "I have decided that in the interest of making sure that we can start the Democratic convention on a high note that I am not going to gavel in the convention," Wasserman Schultz said.
Perhaps this talk of unity has been overstated. Addressing a room full of his supporters today, Bernie Sanders heard "sustained boos" when he said he said it was essential that we elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.
The FBI this morning issued a statement saying it is "investigating a cyber intrusion involving the DNC," adding that "a compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously." Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's campaign is suggesting that the hack "was committed by Russia to benefit Donald Trump."