By Jill Dougherty
Putting to rest doubts that it might be cancelled, the State Department announced Tuesday that senior United States and Russian officials will hold a meeting on Friday in Washington to discuss issues leading up to September’s G-20 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will meet with their Russian counterparts, Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Shoigu, at the State Department.
Washington’s anger over Russia’s granting temporary asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, as well as disagreements between the two countries on other issues, including Syria, led the White House to question whether the meeting was worth holding.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the officials will discuss the New Start nuclear treaty, Afghanistan, Iran’s nuclear program and efforts to end the conflict in Syria.
The White House is also reviewing whether President Barack Obama will still hold a planned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. That meeting would be held around the G-20 in Moscow.