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U.S. senator Rand Paul invites Russian lawmakers to Washington

Rand Paul

"[Monday], I met with Chairman Kosachev, and we agreed on the importance of continued dialogue".

Paul has become one of the few defenders of President Donald Trump's controversial summit meeting with Russia's president Vladimir Putin in Finland last month. "We also agreed to try to organize a meeting in a neutral, third country", the Kentucky senator told reporters.

"Engagement is vital to our national security and peace around the world".

Paul, who traveled to Moscow this weekend, despite calls from political pundits to cancel the trip, has announced that he invited a delegation from Russia's upper house of parliament to visit the United States capital.

In addition to the invitation to the U.S., Paul said he'd like to organize a larger, future meeting.

Monday's whirlwind visit to Moscow, however, was not part of official diplomacy. He was accompanied by Peter Goettler, Cato's president and chief executive, and Don Huffines, a Texas state senator who was chairman of Mr. Paul's presidential campaign in the state. Republicans spoke to their foreign counterparts in July, ahead of the Helsinki summit, to discuss several issues including Russian meddling in US elections.

Kosachev said the visit is especially valuable as some US representatives are attempting to treat all contacts with Russian politicians as toxic ones.

Trump has repeatedly said he wants to improve relations with Russian Federation, which are severely strained.

If the Russian Federation accepts the invite, it would be their first trip to Capitol Hill in three years. "All the Democrats are now happy that new sanctions are being introduced", Paul was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency.

"Of course, Mr. Paul is yet to discuss these ideas with his colleagues after returning to Washington", Kosachyov said.

"We had general discussions about a lot of issues and basically we've decided that, right now, what we're trying to do is have dialogue", he said.

Senior Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev, who was also in the room, reiterated the Russian position that "there was no interference in 2016", adding "there of course will not be any interference in the elections this year".