Trump expresses desire to improve relations with Russian Federation

While not unprecedented, it is a rare privilege for a foreign minister to be received by a United States president for a bilateral meeting in the White House.

"Whenever people are taking care of business instead of putting forth their ideological preferences, it's much more useful", the foreign minister said.

Lavrov called it a USA decision, echoing Putin, who said Russian Federation had nothing to do with Comey's dismissal.

In 2014, Russian Federation annexed Ukraine's Crimea region and backed separatists fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine, drawing condemnation in Europe and the US. Trump reportedly stressed Russia's responsibility to put in place a peace agreement.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that no evidence exists linking Russia to hacked emails during last year's election and that the issue never arose during his meeting in the morning with President Trump.

At Wednesday's meeting, Trump emphasized the need to work together to end the conflict in Syria, underscoring the need for Russian Federation to "rein in the Assad regime, Iran, and Iranian proxies".

The veteran Russian diplomat said the two sides were seeking to "remove all the barriers" in their thorny relationship, and praised his meetings on Syria as "constructive". Meanwhile relations between the Trump administration and Russian Federation appeared to take on a warmer tone.

Lavrov's American counterpart Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has admitted that US-Russian relations are at their lowest ebb since the Cold War and that there is nearly no trust left. The US secretary of state did not mention the matter.

Lavrov also said he wants the United States to give back to Russian Federation two properties it seized outside NY and Washington, D.C., a year ago after the Obama administration said they were linked to spying. She says Tillerson told Lavrov that sanctions on Russian Federation over its actions in Ukraine will remain in place until Russian Federation changes course.

And, at the State Department, there was no briefing on an earlier meeting between Lavrov and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson. Even the health care victory in the House one day later couldn't take his mind off Comey, two people close to Trump said. They apparently preferred to block coverage of the awkwardly timed visit as questions swirled about whether the president had dismissed his FBI director in part to squelch the investigation into possible ties between his campaign and Moscow.

The diplomats met a day after the administration fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been investigating Russia's relationship with Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and numerous president's official circle.

Putin said: "Your question seems very amusing to me". He spoke in Russian and his remarks were translated by his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.

The Oval Office pictures could hardly have come at a worse time for Trump, deepening suspicions that he is too cozy with Putin's government. Those zones are envisioned under a deal struck by Russia, Iran and Turkey.

A longtime friend who talked to the President over the weekend described him as "white hot", a mood that set the table for Comey's firing.

Trump "raised the possibility of broader cooperation on resolving conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere", according to a White House statement.

Lavrov says that's especially true regarding a zone in Syria's south, near the border with Jordan and Israel.

The US mission to the United Nations said "they will not accept it as is", Bassam Barabandi, a former Syrian diplomat with the Syrian opposition, told Al-Monitor.

The agreement calls for the creation of four "de-escalation zones" to shore up a ceasefire, ban flights and allow for humanitarian aid deliveries.

In a Senate hearing on Monday, former acting attorney general Sally Yates said she warned the White House in January that Mr Flynn "essentially could be blackmailed" by the Russians because he apparently had lied to his bosses about his contacts with Mr Kislyak.

"I think that it is even degrading for the American people to hear that Russian Federation is managing the domestic policy of the U.S.", Lavrov said.

  • Leroy Wright