Diplomat scoffs at 'noise' of Russian meddling
- Author: Sonia Alvarado May 12, 2017,
May 12, 2017, 0:55
In a statement following the meeting, the White House said that Trump "emphasized the need to work together to end the conflict in Syria", particularly urging Russian Federation to "rein in" the Assad regime, Iran and Iranian allies.
It also will be a sign that the two countries have improved ties.
He met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the White House early Wednesday, ahead of his visit to the Oval Office.
Trump stunned the United States on Tuesday by firing FBI Director James Comey, whose agency is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential election and the possibility Trump associates may have colluded with Moscow.
"President Trump has reiterated that defeating terrorism is the United States' main priority as far as Syria is concerned".
Lavrov met first with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss Ukraine, Syria and other bilateral issues, but even their brief appearance before reporters was upstaged by the Comey firing.
They weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity. White House officials confirmed the meeting only after news of Comey's dismissal emerged on Tuesday evening.
On Syria, where Russian Federation has backed President Bashar Assad's forces and the USA has supported anti-Assad rebels, the talks appeared to indicate a slight narrowing of differences.
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Comey had asked for more funding and staff in his investigation into Russia's alleged interference in the U.S. election just days before he was sacked, according to the New York Times and NBC News.
"We are ready for this cooperation and today have discussed in detail the steps and mechanisms which we can manage together", Lavrov said.
"We have a shared understanding that this must be a step made jointly to put an end to violence in Syria", Lavrov said. 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.
Lavrov told reporters in a press conference that Washington's sanctions against Russian Federation were not part of his talks with the United States president. Sessions had been asked directly during his confirmation if he'd had contacts with Russian officials during the election campaign and he had said no.
He said talks were underway about arranging for Trump and Putin to meet in early July on the sidelines of the G-20 conference in Hamburg, Germany.
During that trip, Tillerson said relations with Russian Federation were at a low and needed to be rebuilt. The zones would not cover areas where the US -led coalition is fighting the Islamic State group, but enforcement and other questions remain unanswered.
Trump and Lavrov met in private, though both sides cast the session as a sign of ties having improved since the USA leader's assessment of them last month as at an "all-time low". -Russian relations in the wake of the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
In one of the photos, Trump is gesturing to the ambassador while making a remark to Lavrov.