A Surprise Meeting With Henry Kissinger In The Oval Office

May 16, 2017, 09:10
A Surprise Meeting With Henry Kissinger In The Oval Office

In 2014, Russian Federation annexed Ukraine's Crimea region and backed separatists fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine, drawing widespread condemnation in Europe and the United States.

In Washington, Tillerson made no comment on the Comey firing or on the substantive issues he would discuss with Lavrov.

Earlier, when Lavrov arrived at the State Department to meet Tillerson, he cracked a joke about Comey's firing, answering shouted questions from reporters by saying: "Was he fired?".

Reporters also asked whether Comey's firing would affect Trump's meetings Wednesday with Russian officials, to which Trump responded "no".

Both sides sought to praise the meeting, which is the highest level face-to-face contact with a Russian official since Mr Trump took.

Lavrov arrived to the West Wing at a dramatic moment in American politics, hours after Trump fired Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

Tensions in the relationship grew following United States air strikes against a Syrian airfield in April in response to a chemical weapons attack that Washington blamed on Assad. "He was sacked? You're kidding, you're kidding", Mr Lavrov said.

"We didn't raise those absurd issues", he said in a post-meeting press conference. "Therefore, Mr. Shannon and I have done some work to ease somehow the bilateral agenda for the ministers so that they can spare time for Syria and other global issues", he said.

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President Trump said he had emphasised to Mr Lavrov his desire to build a better relationship between the United States and Russian Federation.

President Trump, wearing a dark suit and red striped tie, said he met with Kissinger to talk "about Russian Federation and various other matters".

The official also pushed back on critics who have questioned whether Trump should have met in the Oval Office with Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, whose interactions with Trump campaign officials have come under scrutiny by federal and congressional investigators.

"We will look at the proposal, see if it can work", Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said on Monday. The U.S. only sent an envoy to the talks as an observer.

The U.S., 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 destabilizing activities in eastern Ukraine.

The diplomats met Wednesday in Washington - and there's a new Russian-led agreement to create safe zones in Syria.

He then added: "I believe that poiticians are damaging the political system of the United States".

"We had a very, very good meeting" Trump said shortly after seeing Lavrov.