US President Donald Trump expresses desire to improve relations with Russian Federation

Miranda GreerMay 11, 2017

The Russian minister said that Putin and Trump, who haven't yet met in person, would see each other in July.

US 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. Dmitry Peskov said Kremlin officials hoped Trump's decision to dismiss the Federal Bureau of Investigation director would not affect Russia's relationship with the United States "in any way".

As for the timing of Lavrov's meeting, it was scheduled well in advance of Comey's firing. Trump appeared to soften his position on Bashar Al-Assad once again.

In contrast, he credited Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whom he met earlier in the day, with taking a "businesslike" approach that is "free from ideology", focused on reaching agreements.

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

This drew immediate criticism because the White House seemed to have allowed Russian state media to take photos of the meeting while excluding any American media outlets from doing the same.

Earlier, as Tillerson and Lavrov posed for photographs, the Russian sarcastically deflected a reporter's question about Comey's dismissal.

The US, 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 destabilising activities in eastern Ukraine. Russia's Foreign Ministry tweeted a photo of Trump shaking hands with Lavrov and the Russian Embassy posted another of the president greeting another participant in the meeting: Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a central character in various Russia-related investigations because of his contacts with several individuals close to Trump.

Russia, Turkey and Iran last week agreed on a plan for four "de-escalation zones" in the Arab country to quell a civil war that has killed some 400,000 people and contributed to global refugee and terror crises since erupting in 2011. The U.S. isn't party to the deal and has reacted cautiously, especially given its misgivings about Iran's role. "I think that we're going to do very well with respect to Syria", he said. I believe that in this situation everyone understands that it's real hysteria in the USA media.

Michael Flynn's failure to disclose meetings with Kislyak eventually led to his departure as national security advisor and made the Russian diplomat a virtual household name. The US objects to Russian backing for Assad, and has supported some rebel fighting to oust him.

"We want to see the killing, the awful killing, stopped in Syria as soon as possible and everyone is working towards that end", Trump told reporters.

Lavrov said that despite difficulties "our countries can and should contribute jointly to the settlement of the most urgent issues in global affairs".

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