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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lantos Arrives for Talks With Duma

A delegation of U.S. lawmakers led by senior Democratic Representative Tom Lantos arrived Monday for talks with their counterparts in the State Duma.

The U.S. delegation is scheduled to meet with Duma deputies Tuesday morning.

Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the Duma's International Affairs Committee, told Interfax that he was prepared to discuss any and all issues with Lantos, including domestic issues in Russia.

Lantos, chairman of the International Relations Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, has been an outspoken critic of Kremlin policy, calling at one point for Russia to be kicked out of the Group of Eight.

Lantos also called for the U.S. State Department to identify former Yukos executives Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev as "political prisoners" in its 2006 report on the human rights situation in various countries.

"Unfortunately, this isn't the first time that Lantos has made sweeping, sharply critical statements about the situation in Russia based on nothing more than press reports and remarks by individual nongovernmental organizations," Kosachyov told Interfax.

Kosachyov said he hoped that the two sides would make progress on some of the issues raised in an appeal to the U.S. Congress passed by the Duma on Jan. 10.

"In that document we noted that the U.S. Congress is to blame for the fact that The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the adapted Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty have still not been ratified," Kosachyov said.

"We also expect the United States to join the Kyoto Protocol and, finally, to repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment regarding Russia," he said. Washington has already repealed the Jackson-Vanik trade restrictions for Ukraine.

While Lantos is a veteran lawmaker -- he was elected to Congress from his Northern California district nearly 30 years ago -- he was, until recently, relatively powerless.

But with Democrats' takeover of Congress last year, he was elevated to committee chairman.