Russia's Top Diplomat Meets With Trump at White House

Violet Powell
May 11, 2017

After his meeting with the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Lavrov (L) made a quip about the sacking of the Federal Bureau of Investigation chief.

Both are scheduled to travel to Germany for a Group of 20 leaders' meeting.

The president discussed the possibility of broader cooperation on resolving conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Trump added that he had a very good meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was joined by Russia's Ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak. "The Trump administration, and the president himself, and the Secretary of State, I was persuaded of this once again today, are people of action". It's also Lavrov's first trip to Washington since August 2013, a sign of the high-stakes conversations between the two countries, even as Tillerson and others have said the relationship is at an all-time low.

The statement says Pence stressed America's support for Ukraine's "territorial integrity" and expressed the need to "peacefully resolve the conflict".

During a brief photo-op with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department, NBC News' Andrea Mitchell shouted a question on two occasions about how the firing of former FBI Director James Comey might affect the meeting.

The U.S. has been wary of Iran's involvement and the past failures at a cease-fire in Syria. He stressed Russias responsibility to fully implement the Minsk agreement. The only photographers in the room were the official White House photographer and a photographer from Tass, a state-run news agency.

The White House declared the meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to be closed press, meaning that reporters couldn't attend and cover independently.

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A Russian plan to stabilize Syria after more than six years of civil war is the most urgent foreign policy topic on the agenda. The U.S. isn't a part of that agreement, and has had concerns about the United Nations process being circumvented.

U.S. officials say they need to hear more about who would patrol the proposed zones, and how they would be enforced.

Relations with Moscow were badly strained by Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and its backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine, helping spark a war that has killed more than 9,900 people.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's top diplomat did not speak to reporters and as he walked into a side entrance Wednesday morning.

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

The timing of Comey's firing has raised a lot of questions. Don't be angry with me. "We have nothing to do with that", he replied, with Peskov translating. He's also publicly said that he was looking forward to beginning a dialogue with Trump and his administration.

Tensions surrounding Russia's involvement in the USA election remain high. Those zones are envisioned under a deal struck by Russia, Iran and Turkey.

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