- Associated Press - Friday, May 5, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) - High-level diplomatic talks between the U.S. and Russia aimed at improving relations are due to begin next week, the State Department said Friday.

Thomas Shannon, undersecretary for political affairs, will travel to New York on Monday to meet Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov “to discuss a range of bilateral issues,” the department said in a one-sentence statement.

The meeting will mark the start of a dialogue that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed to last month in Moscow. The working group headed by Shannon and Ryabkov is intended to address festering irritants in the U.S.-Russia relationship that are hindering cooperation on larger issues, such as Syria and Ukraine. Those irritants, described by Russia as “grievances,” include the treatment of diplomats and ordinary citizens by police and judicial officials in the two countries.

At the time of the announcement, Tillerson said the working group would look at “smaller issues and make progress toward stabilizing the relationship, so that we can then address the more serious problems.”

In Moscow, Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Ryabkov as saying his meeting with Shannon would cover “questions connected to the normal functioning of diplomatic representations in both countries” among other things.

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