Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) delivered a letter on Wednesday from President Donald Trump to introduce the Kentucky senator to Russian President Vladimir Putin and emphasized “further engagement” between Trump and Putin.
“I was honored to deliver a letter from President Donald J. Trump to President Vladimir Putin’s administration,” Sen. Paul said in a statement on Wednesday.
Paul delivered the letter to representatives of Putin because the Russian leader has been away from Moscow all week.
The Kentucky conservative said the letter emphasized “the importance of further engagement in various areas including countering terrorism, enhancing legislative dialogue and resuming cultural exchanges.”
On Wednesday, the White House asked Trump for the letter to introduce him to President Putin and encourage dialogue about counterterrorism and increased diplomacy.
Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman, said in a statement on Wednesday:
At Senator Paul’s request, President Trump provided a letter of introduction. In the letter, the President mentioned topics of interest that Senator Paul wanted to discuss with President Putin.
An American official provided to CNN the text of the letter, which read:
I would like to introduce Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a voice for expanding dialogue with the Russian Federation. He will be in Moscow from August 5 to August 8.
Senator Paul would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss several topics. He is interested in legislative exchanges, parliamentary dialogue and cultural and educational exchange programs, increased counter-terrorism cooperation, building on recent successes like the disruption of the St. Petersburg plot and resolution of the military conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.
“Thank you for considering meeting with Senator Paul during his visit to Russia,” the letter added.
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, confirmed that the letter was delivered to the Russian president, however, Putin has yet to review the message.
Paul, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has continued to meet with Russian officials in Moscow this week along with visiting the U.S. embassy. The Kentucky Republican also met Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s former envoy to Washington, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.
On Monday, Sen. Paul announced that Russian lawmakers have agreed to visit the U.S. Capitol, which would be the first time in three years that a Russian delegation did so.
Paul’s trip to Russia comes just weeks after Republican lawmakers traveled to Moscow for meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, including members of the Russian Parliament.
The increased diplomacy between the two nations occurred after President Trump met with President Putin in Helsinki, Finland, in July. Trump invited Putin to D.C. this fall. However, he delayed the meeting between the two world leaders until after the 2018 midterm elections.
Paul defended Trump’s meeting with Putin despite boisterous criticism from Democrats, establishment Republicans, and the mainstream media.
Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY), a conservative ally of Sen. Paul, has cheered the Kentucky senator’s leadership in bringing about more diplomacy between Russia and the United States.
On Monday, Rep. Massie tweeted, “This may be why the only type of diplomacy the GOP & Dem establishment understands is either a full-on war or a cold war or sanctions. They underestimate the value of talking to your would-be adversaries, but that doesn’t make anyone money in Washington”:
This may be why the only type of diplomacy the GOP & Dem establishment understands is either a full-on war or a cold war or sanctions. They underestimate the value of talking to your would-be adversaries, but that doesn’t make anyone money in Washington.https://t.co/yunlpB7HK1
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) August 7, 2018
On Wednesday, Massie wrote, “Thank you @RandPaul for promoting peace and dialogue, in spite of the xenophobic isolationists who would try to use this against you”:
Congressman Massie suggested in an interview with Breitbart News that America and the world will benefit from the increased dialogue between the two countries.
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) August 8, 2018
“Ultimately, not just America, but the world will be better off because of the dialogue that Trump has initiated that other presidents were too afraid to initiate,” Rep. Massie said.