- The Washington Times - Friday, July 9, 2021

John Kerry, President Biden’s top adviser on climate issues, will travel to Moscow next week for meetings with senior Russian officials, the Kremlin confirmed Friday.

The former secretary of state will meet with his onetime counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on Monday as part of a three-day visit, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a Moscow briefing Friday.

The Biden administration has seen climate issues as a rare plot of common ground with rivals such as Russia and China, which have clashed with Washington on numerous other fronts. Mr. Kerry was the first senior U.S. administration official to visit China since Mr. Biden’s election, holding two days of closed-door talks on climate initiatives with a senior Chinese official in April.

Mr. Biden has also touted his decision to rejoin the global Paris climate accord as a key marker of the break with the policies and diplomacy of the Trump administration.

Ms. Zakharova said Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lavrov will review “prospects for joint action” ahead of the global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, in November and also discuss environmental issues relating to the Arctic. Russia is the current president of the eight-nation Arctic Council, a forum that deals with climate and security issues in the fast-developing region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in Mr. Biden’s virtual climate summit this spring, but Western officials are pressing Moscow to boost what they say are its unambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gases. The State Department first acknowledged Mr. Kerry‘s trip in a brief statement Thursday.

As special envoy to the president on climate issues, Mr. Kerry would be the highest-ranking American official to travel to Russia this year.

The visit comes amid deep divisions between Russia and the U.S. and issues ranging from Ukraine and energy policy to the surge of ransomware cases targeting American public and private entities that U.S. officials charge have originated in Russia.

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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