Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) told Russia’s foreign minister that while Russia and the United States were competitors, “we don’t necessarily need to be adversaries.” Later on at the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, members attending a plenary session greeted the Americans with applause.

“I’m not here today to accuse Russia of this or that or so forth,” Shelby told Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin. “I’m saying that we should all strive for a better relationship.”

The Republicans’ meetings in Moscow — coming after the lawmakers visited St. Petersburg and took in the ballet “Sleeping Beauty” — helped set the tone for the July 16 Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki. Their Russian hosts said they hoped the Americans’ newfound willingness to meet marked a turning point after years of almost no direct contact between lawmakers in Washington and Moscow.