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Rick Perry will meet with Russian and Saudi counterparts ahead of Iran sanctions

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U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry will meet his counterparts from Saudi Arabia and Russia starting on Monday, sources familiar with the matter said, as the Trump administration encourages oil-producing countries to keep output up two months before it is due to renew sanctions on Iran’s crude exports.

Perry will meet Khalid al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, and other officials from the kingdom, the world’s largest oil exporter, in Washington on Monday morning, a U.S. government source said.

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Perry, al-Falih and Darren Woods, the chief executive of ExxonMobil, were introduced on Saturday to the crowd at a Texas A&M University football game in College Station, Texas. All three attended at the university.

The U.S. energy secretary will also meet with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak on Thursday in Moscow, according to the U.S. source and a diplomatic source said.

Perry will be the most senior U.S. official to visit Russia since President Donald Trump met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July to try to improve ties that have dipped to a post-Cold War low.

Moscow and Washington are at odds over U.S. accusations of Russian meddling in U.S. politics, Syria, Ukraine and the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.

Officials from the United States and Russia, two of the world’s largest oil and natural gas producers, formerly met regularly to discuss energy issues. Those meetings stopped in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea.

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Trump has said he wants to improve ties, but his administration is considering imposing new sanctions on Moscow, as is the U.S. Congress.

Novak has said in the past that the United States should not be permitted to impose such sanctions without a vote of the U.N. Security Council, of which Russia is a permanent member.

Perry and Novak, who last met in June in Washington, will likely discuss Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline project to carry Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea. Trump and former U.S. President Barack Obama have criticized the project, saying it would increase Russian influence in Europe, but Germany supports the pipeline.

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Perry and Novak are also expected to discuss global oil markets in the context of cooperation between OPEC, of which Saudi Arabia is the largest producer, and non-OPEC countries, including Russia.

Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal with OPEC member Iran in May. His administration is due to re-impose sanctions on Iran’s oil shipments in November and is pushing consuming countries to cut their purchases of the oil to zero, although it may issue some waivers. Some countries including India have already cut purchases of Iranian oil, which has helped push up global oil prices.

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OPEC and non-OPEC officials will meet later this month to discuss proposals for sharing an oil-output increase after the groups decided in June to boost output moderately.

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Olesya Astakhova in Moscow, Timothy Gardner in Washington; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Will Dunham


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Trump ignored aides’ advice before first Ukraine call — and it destroyed his impeachment defense: report

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President Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to himself as his own top advisor and a political "genius." But his interactions with Ukraine at the heart of the impeachment inquiry could demonstrate the limitations of such an approach to governing.

Friday's bombshell, behind-closed-door testimony from David Holmes has made White House aides unhappy, but the bad news for the administration did not stop there.

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‘Aides to the president are not happy’ Gordon Sondland held the phone up in restaurant: CNN’s Jim Acosta

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CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta reported on Friday that White House aides are unhappy with Ambassador Gordon Sondland for holding up a call with Trump in a restaurant for multiple witnesses to listen.

The details were revealed in bombshell closed-door testimony before Congress on Friday.

Acosta noted the administration was trying to downplay the significance of the call.

"But I will tell you, that the aides of the president are not happy that Gordon Sondland apparently held the phone up so other aides could hear what was going on and the words of the source familiar with the conversations inside the White House, the president speaks loudly, Sondland should know that," Acosta reported.

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David Holmes’ opening statement to Congress directly implicated Donald Trump: report

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Congress will hear first-hand testimony of President Donald Trump's involvement in the Ukraine scandal.

"David Holmes, the state department aide who overheard President Donald Trump's conversation with the US ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, said that Sondland told Trump that the Ukranian President would do 'anything you ask him to,' and that he confirmed the Ukrainians were going to 'do the investigation,'" CNN reported Friday.

""Sondland told Trump that (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky 'loves your ass,'" Holmes testified. "I then heard President Trump ask, 'So, he's gonna do the investigation?' Ambassador Sondland replied that 'he's gonna do it,' adding that President Zelensky will do 'anything you ask him to.'"

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