Head of Russian security forces joins White House talks

18th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

Despite strained US-Russian ties, the head of Russia's FSB security forces was Wednesday leading Moscow's delegation to a White House summit aimed at battling violent extremists, a US official said.

Alexander Bortnikov, who heads the powerful intelligence agency, is one of the highest level Russian officials to visit Washington in recent months as tensions have flared over the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow told Washington late Tuesday that it wanted to include Bortnikov in its delegation to the three-day summit being hosted by the White House. The FSB is the successor to what was once the KGB.

"Violent extremism and terrorism are problems that affect communities around the world, including Russia," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

"There are a range of issues that we work together on. We certainly have strong disagreements as it relates to Ukraine," she added.

Bortnikov is subject to EU sanctions imposed due to Moscow's involvement in a bid by pro-Russian rebels to seize territory from under Kiev's control, Psaki confirmed to AFP. But he is not under any US sanctions.

"The Russians asked for assistance with visas and flight clearance last night because they decided to change some of the attendees in their delegation," Psaki said.

The Russian delegation was Wednesday taking part in a meeting on the sidelines of the summit devoted to the problem of foreign fighters being hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department.

Psaki had no explanation as to why Moscow expanded its delegation at the last minute to include Bortnikov.

"Russia was invited to participate. I believe that we left it to each country to determine their delegations," she said.

© 2015 AFP

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