Acting Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Shannon and the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, held a meeting on Tuesday in Washington. According to RIA Novosti, the State Department confirmed that the meeting took place.
"Deputy Secretary of State Shannon regularly holds meetings with foreign ambassadors on a number of issues. Although we do not disclose the details of diplomatic meetings, it should be noted that this was a meeting scheduled a long time ago," the representative of the State Department told the Russian news agency.
The State Department did not disclose the details of the conversation between Shannon and Kislyak, which was held behind closed doors. The Russian Embassy declined to comment.
The discussion was held against the backdrop of the resignation of the U.S. President’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, who acknowledged that he provided the White House with incomplete information about the contacts with the Russian Ambassador in Washington. According to media reports, in December 2016, Flynn discussed sanctions against Russia with Kislyak.
Shannon was appointed Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in February 2016, still under the Obama administration. Prior to the appointment of Rex Tillerson to the post of Secretary of State, he served as the head of the State Department during the transition period.
Shannon and Kislyak’s meeting was the first publicly announced official interaction between U.S. and Russian diplomats since Tillerson took office on February 1.
Earlier, the Russian Ambassador told reporters that a meeting between Tillerson and the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov was in the works. He said their first talks could take place in the very near future in Bonn, where the heads of diplomatic missions of the G20 would meet on February 15 to 17. Alternatively, their first meeting could take place later, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
Kislyak emphasized that the Russian Federation and the United States intend to start preparing for the meeting of their heads of state, for which "there is a pressing need."