- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Sen. Rand Paul said Tuesday that he returned from his Russia trip with commitments for two separate meetings with Russian officials in the coming months.

“We’re excited to announce that [Russian officials] agreed to continue these dialogues,” Mr. Paul said on a media call. 

The Kentucky Republican said the Russian government agreed to send delegates that are not on the sanctions lists in order to meet with American lawmakers on Capitol Hill in the fall.

Russian and American lawmakers also agreed to meet in a neutral country so that Americans can meet with chairmen from the Russian Federation, many of whom are barred because of sanctions.

Mr. Paul said that sanctions against the Russian officials are counterproductive. Russian lawmakers should be allowed to come so Americans can address their concerns with the foreign government, including election hacking.

“I think it was a big mistake to include in sanctions members of their legislature,” he said.

Mr. Paul stressed that U.S. should not be “diplomatically isolated.” He said that there are some on both the right and the left have adopted isolationist ideas when it comes to Russia.

“I think diplomatic isolation is a real mistake for our country,” he said, “The only way to express concern is to have dialogue.”

He said he hopes some lawmakers will consider removing the restrictions on some Russian lawmakers coming to the U.S.

The Republican senator said that Democratic anger toward President Trump is jeopardizing dialogue over issues such as nuclear arms control. However, he expressed a desire for the meetings to be a bipartisan affair.

Mr. Paul plans to meet one-on-one with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to discuss his work in Russia and the upcoming meetings.

“Really for the meeting in the fall to be a success, I’ve got find senators who will be willing to sit down and at least have a conversation,” Mr. Paul said.

Mr. Trump also invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit D.C. in the fall, despite pushback from his comments at the Helsinki summit.

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