US President Donald Trump expresses desire to improve relations with Russia

16 May, 2017, 09:07 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel
  • Trump, Russia's Lavrov discuss Syrian civil war

US President Donald Trump was to receive Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov at the White House, even as a political firestorm has put Moscow's alleged meddling in the US election back in the spotlight.

Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russian Federation has "cautious optimism" about the prospect of improving relations with the United States, but also that there is still a lot of work to do.

Lavrov, who is known to sometimes for his dry sense of humor, joked about Comey's firing when he was asked about it at his brief appearance with Tillerson.

"Comey firing cast a shadow over the talks, gentlemen?"

Lavrov later met with Trump, but the talks yielded few concrete outcomes other than warm pleasantries.

Tillerson's office says his meetings with Lavrov will focus on "Ukraine, Syria, and bilateral issues".

A statement from the White House said that Trump had informed Comey "that he has been terminated and removed from office".

If confirmed, it would be the first meeting between the two men since Trump assumed power in January.

Mr Lavrov was conveying a Russian plan to end the violence, after hashing out an agreement with Iran and Turkey last week. Ties soured further in April after the US blamed a Russian ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, for a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians and Trump ordered that some 60 cruise missiles be fired at a Syrian air base in response.

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Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday that Moscow expected "above all coming to a common understanding on the need for de-escalation in Syria". At the time, Tillerson said relations with Russian Federation needed to be rebuilt.

Comey had asked for more funding and staff in his investigation into Russia's alleged interference in the United States election just days before he was sacked, according to the New York Times and NBC News.

"Was he fired? You're kidding!"

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in a January report that Putin had ordered an effort to disrupt the 2016 election that included hacking into Democratic Party emails and leaking them, with the aim of helping Trump.

"We will look at the proposal, see if it can work", Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said Monday. The continued fighting between rebels and Assad's military has complicated US efforts to defeat IS.

But Lavrov said he detected a US willingness to participate, especially with a zone being formed in Syria's south, near the border with Israel and Jordan.

The U.S., along with some European allies, has imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Russian Federation in response to what they called the annexation of Crimea and destabilizing activities in eastern Ukraine.

Lavrov says American politicians who are raising questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election are damaging the US political system by suggesting it's being controlled by outsiders.

Lavrov also suggested that Russia's President Vladimir Putin could meet Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Hamburg in July.

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