Senator Rand Paul invites Russian lawmakers to Washington

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Senator Rand Paul is leading a US delegation to Moscow in an effort to improve lines of communication with Russian Federation.

Paul said that members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, had been invited "to come to the United States to meet with us in Washington".

The "main aim of the trip" was to "create a dialogue" and "improve relations" between Moscow and Washington, Paul added.

The delegation met the Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Konstantin Kosachev and Vice Speaker of the Federation Council Vladimir Lukin.

"I think this is incredibly important, " Paul said after the high-profile sit-down.

Sen. Rand Paul said during a trip to Russia that American and Russian legislators need closer contact, noting that "our biggest problem right now is no dialogue".

He said he opposed new sanctions legislation against Russia that was backed by a bipartisan group of USA lawmakers last week, but said he represented a minority voice, Russian news agencies reported.

Don Huffines, Sen. Rand Paul and his communications director Sergio Gor attend a meeting with Russian lawmakers in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Aug. 6, 2018.

Paul was one of only two senators who voted against a major Russia sanctions bill in 2017 and has praised President Donald Trump's efforts to engage with Russia, vocally defending Trump when the president faced widespread criticism from US lawmakers over his conduct at a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16 in Helsinki. "Meanwhile, my Trump-defending opponent Don Huffines made a decision to go on a Moscow adventure this week with Rand Paul instead, to "improve parliamentary relations" with Russian Federation".

There is unanimous agreement among USA intelligence agencies that the Russian government directed extensive influence operations to sow racial, political, and cultural division in the election.

It was "opposition research", Trump said, not collusion. "Certainly it will not happen during the ongoing election campaign either", he said.

Trump's Helsinki meeting was panned by a number of prominent Republican officials who said the president appeared to side with Putin over top USA intelligence officials.

"Of course, Mr. Paul is yet to discuss these ideas with his colleagues after returning to Washington", Kosachyov said.