A group of U.S. lawmakers will travel to Russia next week on a trip that the head of the delegation said is aimed at increasing bilateral cooperation - particularly in the area of counterterrorism following last month's Boston Marathon bombings.
Two Boston residents with roots in the restive Russian regions of Chechnya and Dagestan are suspected of carrying out the bombings. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police a few days after the bombings. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, is in federal custody on charges he helped in the twin blasts that killed three people and injured 264.
Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California - who chairs the U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats - will lead the bipartisan delegation to Russia.
He told VOA that the Boston bombings underscored the lack of cooperation between the U.S. and Russian intelligence services and the need to change that.
"If you take a look at how the world has developed over these last 20 years, we have radical Islam and radical Islamic terrorism that is murdering both of our peoples and is a great threat to the security of, and safety of our people in both the United States and Russia ... So, instead of pushing each other away and looking for reasons not to cooperate, we should be looking for reasons to cooperate," said Rohrabacher.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev spent six months in Dagestan last year. U.S. officials said last month that Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB, had asked the FBI and CIA about Tsarnaev in 2011, even before he went to Dagestan, and that both U.S. agencies had, in turn, asked the FSB for any information it had about Tsarnaev.
The FBI said it did not receive more specific or additional information about Tsarnaev.
Republican Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan, who heads the U.S. House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee, said last month that the Russian government was not helping the U.S. find out more about Tsarnaev's time in Dagestan.