Top Russian, US diplomats hold first meeting in Germany

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov | Kirill Kudryavtsev  AFP via Getty Images

Rex Tillerson arrived in Bonn on Wednesday on his maiden foreign trip as US secretary of state to attend a summit of G20 top economies at a time when many are wondering how far President Donald Trump's "America First" message will reshape USA foreign policy.

After the meeting, Tillerson - in his first public statement since assuming the the position of top diplomat earlier this month - gave a quick recap of his meeting with his Russian counterpart.

Mr Johnson is due to see Mr Tillerson at a get-together of G20 foreign ministers on Thursday, The Independent understands.

U.S. President Donald Trump spoke with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the phone on January 28 for the first time since the former was elected last November.

Jim Wilkinson, a senior adviser to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said it was vital for Tillerson to establish a relationship with fellow ministers during his first trip.

Tillerson also will be playing defense amid the chaos and turmoil caused by the firing of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misleading officials about his contacts with Russian Federation.

Trump's predecessor Barack Obama had repeatedly warned Israel that if it did not agree a two-state deal with the Palestinians, it would never reach an accommodation with the Arab world.

Asked whether the chaos in Washington was a concern to Russia, Lavrov replied: "You should know we do not interfere in the domestic matters of other countries".

"We don't want to get into a new Cold War".

US Defence Secretary James Mattis however said at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting in Brussels that Washington was not ready "right now" for military collaboration with Russian Federation. That's something London and Washington are completely at one on.

"I think Rex Tillerson is absolutely clear in his view, which is the same as mine".

"We agreed that we would continue contacts".

Lavrov, who addressed reporters separately, said the two diplomats did not discuss sanctions on Russian Federation.

The officials also said that Tillerson would not soften Washington's stance on Ukraine, a crisis which remains largely unresolved.

On Russia, Ayrault said he was happy to hear Tillerson say that sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine would only be lifted if there was progress on the Minsk agreements to end fighting in east Ukraine.

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