WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite U.S.-Russian tensions over Ukraine, the head of the Russian spy and counterintelligence service will attend this week's White House conference on countering extremist violence.
The State Department said Wednesday that Alexander Bortnikov is coming after Russia made a late request to expand its delegation.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Russia asked for and received help late Tuesday with visa processing and flight clearances for the expanded delegation that now includes Bortnikov, who runs Russia's Federal Security Service or FSB, the successor to the KGB.
Psaki said the U.S. welcomes Russia's participation in the conference, adding that Washington and Moscow have a shared interest in fighting terrorism no matter how strong their disagreements are on Ukraine.
Representatives from about 65 countries are taking part in the conference but the participation of Bortnikov is unusual given U.S. allegations that Russia is supplying arms and fighters to rebels in Ukraine. It is also unusual given a series of espionage charges made by U.S. prosecutors against alleged Russian spies operating in the United States.