Exclusive — Rand Paul: Russia Trip a ‘Great Success’; U.S. Citizens Prefer America First to Nation-Building

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., answers questions about the approaching confirmation vote for Mike Pompeo to become the next secretary of state during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 18, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
SEAN MORAN

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday that his diplomatic mission to Russia was a “great success” and that Americans across the political spectrum prefer rebuilding America to nation-building.

Sen. Rand Paul traveled to Russia this past week and met with Russian lawmakers as well as former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Paul delivered a letter from President Donald Trump to introduce the Kentucky Republican to Russian President Vladimir Putin and emphasized “further engagement” between Trump and Putin.

Paul, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stressed increased cooperation between Russia and the United States, especially regarding counterterrorism and resolving the military conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

Sen. Paul told Breitbart News he thought his diplomatic trip to Russia was a “great success.” He explained, “We took a letter from President Trump to President Putin, we were able to meet on the first day with the Foreign Relations Committee, and that’s the upper house of their Parliament. And one of the exciting breakthroughs is that we have decided to meet again in Washington this fall after our elections. I’ve invited him to come to Washington to continue dialogue over things such as nuclear arm control, sharing information to prevent things such as terrorist attacks, exchanges between our legislators. I was excited that the Federation and the Duma, both of their Foreign Relations Committees, accepted that invitation, and my hope is to schedule that next meeting in the fall.”

Paul suggested that similar to Ronald Reagan’s meeting with Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, “significant things” can happen with increased relations between Russia and the United States.

Sen. Paul said, “I think over there, we were pretty well received. They were open to more exchanges, but also, I think our meeting with Gorbachev hopefully puts this in a historical context, but most Americans, not all, seem to realize that Ronald Reagan’s meeting with Gorbachev that the treaties signed to reduce nuclear weapons or missiles was a good thing, and I think that we’ve forgotten that. Americans, particularly the ones in the media and the left who suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome, I think they need to be reminded Reagan met with Gorbachev and significant things happened.

“Now, if Reagan has refused to meet with Gorbachev because of human rights violations of the Soviet Union or military aggression, but if they never met there, would never have been gone, those breakthroughs,” Paul continued. “Sometimes we have to agree to disagree. We need to have conflict on certain issues. It’s about continuing to press Russia to not meddle in our elections, but at the same time, we continue to talk with Russia because they have a great deal of information about potential terrorist attacks around the world through their intelligence communities and the same, and we can help each other.”

Sen. Paul then told Breitbart News he spoke with President Trump before his trip to Russia and that he plans to speak with the president, officials in the State Department, and debrief senators about establishing more diplomacy between Russia and the United States. Paul said American sanctions on Russia banned the two chairmen of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Russian Federation and Duma from entering the United States. He also said he plans to meet with Democrat and Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to allow these Russian legislators to come to the United States and work on mutually beneficial issues.

The Kentucky Republican also said he spoke with many Russian officials about resolving the continued conflict in Syria. Paul contends that the only way to solve the ongoing crisis in Syria will be through a diplomatic agreement which will have to involve Russia.

“We talked about our worry that there could be an accidental conflict or an accidental war, by our military forces being so close in Syria,” Paul explained. “We also discussed the fact that most people on all sides of the conflict believe that it will require a political solution. No one is going to completely win or lose that war, so I think that the political solution will have to involve dialogue with Russia, and part of that dialogue needs to be our legislators talking to their legislators, their leaders talking to our leaders.”

“We should try to resolve areas where hundreds of thousands of people killed and millions of people have fled Syria; that’s not going to end unless we have conversations with Russia,” Rand added.

According to a Politico report, last week, President Trump and Sen. Paul have connected at a “gut level” in which they have agreed that the president’s “America First” foreign policy should involve less nation-building, less foreign intervention, and more diplomatic relations abroad. Trump has already made historic progress with bringing North Korea into the world of nations and has sought détente with Russia amid minimized relations between the United States and Russia.

Sen. Paul reportedly persuaded President Trump from avoiding commitment to regime change in Iran and continues to lobby the president to end the war in Afghanistan.

Paul told Breitbart News he believes President Trump shares his belief that America should end the 17-year war in Afghanistan and that Trump could “resolve the war” in the “next year or two.”

Sen. Paul charged, “I think what I’ve told President Trump and told him on many occasions about is that I think we have been at war too long in too many places. We are into the seventeenth year of that war, and I think the president shares my belief that the time has come to resolve the Afghan war. I think that President Trump has what it takes to resolve the war in Afghanistan. I think there is a reasonable chance to, in the next year or two, that he will resolve the war.”

Paul said, “Nobody can guarantee anything … but it is my belief that we should try to figure out and declare our victory in Afghanistan and work towards coming home.”

Sen. Paul suggested that focusing on improving America rather than nation-building across the world will garner political support across the political spectrum.

He said, “I think instead of building roads and bridges in Afghanistan, we can build bridges and roads in our country. I think if you ask the average American if we should be building bridges and roads in Afghanistan or here, I think if you are either a Republican, Democrat, or an independent, average Americans will rather spend money here at home.”

“I think President Trump hates that, and I think he would rather see some of that money spent at home,” Paul added.

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