Trump awaits highest level face-to-face contact with Russia

Friday, 12 May, 2017

Lavrov has noted that he and the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would consider issues to be discussed by the two countries' presidents at their meeting scheduled for July.

President Donald Trump could meet with Vladimir Putin's top diplomat at the White House on Wednesday, a USA official and a person with knowledge of the plans said, describing what would be the highest level, face-to-face contact with Russian Federation of the American leader's young presidency.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday welcomed Vladimir Putin's top diplomat to the White House for Trump's highest level face-to-face contact with a Russian government official since he took office in January.

After the meeting, Lavrov told reporters that Trump confirmed his interest in building "mutually beneficial" relations with Russian Federation.

With tensions high after the United States launched a missile strike in Syria, a Russian ally, last month, Trump knew he would have to appear friendly - but not too friendly, since the FBI is investigating whether Trump's campaign might have colluded with Russia to meddle in last year's election.

Lavrov chalked up the controversy to "noise" and to "false news" - invoking Trump's frequent references to the Russian Federation allegations as "fake news".

Donald Trump has defended his controversial sacking of James Comey - claiming the Federal Bureau of Investigation director "was not doing a good job".

"He also wrote about it via Twitter later in the day", Lavrov said. Yet Trump's stunning decision on the eve of the meeting to fire the FBI director overseeing a Russia-related investigation injected further intrigue into Lavrov's first visit to Washington since 2013. But many question whether the dismissal had anything to do with Comey being in charge of the investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russian Federation. That was never going to be easy, he adds, because Putin's plan for moving forward in Syria and resolving the long civil war there offers little to entice the US. Vershbow said frequent dialogue between Tillerson and Lavrov on these complex issues is crucial. And in a surprise, Trump greeted the media with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

President Donald Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Wednesday at the White House.

In his earlier meeting with Lavrov, Tillerson emphasized the USA wouldn't lift sanctions on Russian Federation related to Ukraine until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered the punishment - namely, its Crimea annexation.

Russian Federation denies the allegations.

Lavrov was in a joking mood when he spoke to reporters beside Tillerson Wednesday morning at the State Department. You're kidding. You're kidding'.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, writing on Facebook, countered: "The American side did not ask us to refrain from publishing these photographs".

Trump administration officials have denied any link between the sacking and the FBI's inquiry - claiming it had more to do with his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email use. "It was very important that Tillerson also saw President [Vladimir] Putin when he was in Moscow a couple of weeks ago", said Vershbow. During that trip, Tillerson said relations with Russian Federation were at a low and needed to be rebuilt.

It focuses on the creation of four de-escalation zones.

Asked by a reporter if the firing would cast a shadow over his talks, Mr Lavrov replied in a sarcastic tone: 'Was he fired?