Trump hosts Russian foreign minister, envoy at White House
- Author: Joey Payne May 12, 2017,
May 12, 2017, 0:43
President Donald Trump's meeting at the White House with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak was closed to all press with the exception of the Russian government-owned news agency TASS, which took photos of the event.
Russia's foreign minister sarcastically acknowledged the abrupt dismissal of Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey by saying "Was he fired?".
But 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".
The Russian Embassy had sent out the photo as Trump was set to meet Lavrov on Wednesday. No reporters were allowed in to ask questions - though they were ushered in minutes later for Mr. Trump's session with Henry A. Kissinger, the former secretary of state, New York Times reported.
White House officials have said Trump's frustration with Comey came to a head last week.
"President Trump publicly stated on a number of occasions what he thinks about accusations and allegations regarding Russia's meddling into your domestic affairs", Lavrov said.
The uproar seemed certain to complicate Lavrov's mission in search of USA support for a Russian plan to create safe zones in war-wracked Syria. The Russian diplomat scoffed at reporters who asked him about Comey's firing.
"Was he fired? You're kidding!"
"We have thoroughly discussed Syria, including those ideas about creating de-escalation zones". Tuesday evening, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, ostensibly for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
"The FBI is one of our nation's most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement", Trump said, according to the statement.
Tillerson said ahead of the meeting that his counterpart was there to continue "our dialogue and our exchanges that began in Moscow", referring to their previous talks in the Russian capital last month.
After Tillerson visited Putin and Lavrov in Moscow on April 12, Trump said flatly, "Right now we're not getting along with Russian Federation at all".
A Russian plan to stabilize Syria after over six years of civil war is the most urgent foreign policy topic on the agenda.
Dmitry Peskov says Russian Federation hopes that President Donald Trump's decision to fire the FBI's James Comey won't affect U.S. -Russia ties "in any way". Lavrov continued: "You are kidding".
USA reporters were not permitted to cover the meeting.
He's brushing off the questions as "noise" about Russians' contacts with people in Trump's campaign.