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US Congressmen Meet Russian Officials in St. Petersburg

FILE - Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 12, 2017. Shelby is heading a U.S. congressional delegation meeting with senior Russian officials in St. Petersburg.

A U.S. congressional delegation is meeting with senior Russian officials in St. Petersburg amid preparations for a summit between the nations' presidents.

U.S.-Russian ties have hit the lowest point in decades due to sanctions over Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 election and disagreement over Syria, Ukraine and other topics.

St. Petersburg governor Georgy Poltavchenko told U.S. congressmen on Monday that he hopes for a warming of ties. "We look into the future with optimism and are ready for cooperation on all fronts," he said.

Richard Shelby, a Republican senator from Alabama who heads the delegation, also called for dialogue, according to a statement from the governor's office.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, would not say whether the congressmen would later meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.