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Nord Stream 2 could come up during Blinken-Lavrov talks – State Dept Official

Blinken and Lavrov are expected to meet on the margins of the Arctic Council ministerial scheduled to be held on May 19-20 in Iceland's capital city of Reykjavik.

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Washington: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken could discuss the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this week, according to a US State Department official.

Blinken and Lavrov are expected to meet on the margins of the Arctic Council ministerial scheduled to be held on May 19-20 in Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik. The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier after a phone conversation between Lavrov and Blinken that they agreed to hold a bilateral on May 20.

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A senior US State Department official said as quoted in a Sunday briefing transcript that the topic of Nord Stream 2 “could come up in the bilat.”

“We’ve been very clear, as has the Congress, in our views of Nord Stream 2, and that it is a Russian strategic project that undermines European security, European energy security. So we’ll see if those things come up,” the official said.

The official added that the administration of US President Joe Biden is looking for a more stable and predictable relationship with Moscow.

“We were able to do the extension of the important New START Treaty for five years right off the bat, but we also look at areas where Russia has behaved aggressively and undertaken malign efforts for which, as the President said, there will be a cost. We’re not going to stand idly by. We don’t seek to escalate, we are simply, again, looking for a more predictable, stable relationship. And I think there are areas where we can discuss these things with Foreign Minister Lavrov,” the State Department official explained.

On Friday, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that Blinken was looking forward to discussing with his Russian counterpart Lavrov the totality of bilateral relations and exploring areas for potential cooperation at their meeting next week in Iceland. Price mentioned climate, strategic stability, Iran and North Korea among issues where Russia and the United States could potentially cooperate.

Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture of the Russian energy company Gazprom and five European partners. It aims to construct a twin pipeline that will deliver up to 2 trillion cubic feet of Russian gas to Germany annually under the Baltic Sea. The United States is opposed to the project, seeking to export more of its liquefied natural gas to Europe.

The pipeline’s construction was suspended in December 2019 after US sanctions forced Swiss pipelay company Allseas to withdraw from the project. The construction resumed last December and is 95% complete.

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