Blinken-Lavrov Talks, Nord Stream 2 Sanctions Waiver 'Encouraging Step Forward'

"It will be up to both countries' president to carry the torch from here.”

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 20th May, 2021) The meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Reykjavik, as well as the Nord Stream 2 pipeline sanctions waiver, represent an "encouraging step forward" in bilateral US-Russia relations, American experts told Sputnik on Thursday.

"Foreign Minister Lavrov's meeting with Secretary Blinken seems to have been a constructive and encouraging step forward," President of the Russian Public Affairs Committee (Ru-PAC) Hunter Cawood said.

This meeting has laid the groundwork for an upcoming summit between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden that has all the potential to recalibrate bilateral relations, he added.

"It will be up to both countries' president to carry the torch from here," he noted.

Cawood expressed hope that the meeting between two top diplomats will highlight areas for cooperation and that both countries stand to benefit from working together.

Vice President of Washington-based think tank Eurasia Center, Earl Rasmussen, agreed that talks between Blinken and Lavrov were a good step forward in the relationship. However, he expressed concerns that Washington will continue its sanctions-centric approach.

"If the US wants a stable and predictable relationship, one that could be mutually beneficial then the US needs to show that they are interested in such a relationship," Rasmussen said.

Both Moscow and Washington have a lot of critical issues to address, including Ukraine, the Middle East, cybersecurity, he added.

Both experts expressed the importance of Washington’s intention to waive sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

"It appears that the US has, for the most part, accepted that Nord Stream 2 will be completed. Moreover, they realize the importance it has the Europe, especially Germany," Rasmussen said.

This move is in line with the American value of free trade, Cawood noted.

"It was a show of strength and maturity on the part of the Biden administration," he said, adding that such initiative will help normalize Russia-US relations.

On Wednesday, Blinken said that the US decided that it is in the national interest to waive sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, its CEO Matthias Warnig and corporate officers. Germany welcomed this move, after repeatedly calling US attempts to disrupt the pipeline's construction an interference in its domestic affairs.

Lavrov and Blinken discussed a wide range of bilateral and global issues during their first in-person meeting on the sidelines of the Arctic Council on Wednesday.