Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister, jokes about Comey firing

Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister, jokes about Comey firing

President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson each met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday.

Kislyak has been a central figure in the controversy, as then-national security adviser Michael Flynn was sacked after it emerged that he had misrepresented conversations with Kislyak to others in the White House. "Those images show Trump also met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak". Current and former United States intelligence officials have accused Kislyak of being a top spy and recruiter of spies, a notion that Russian officials have dismissed.

President Trump is hosting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the White House Wednesday, one day after firing the man whose agency is investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 election that brought Trump to power.

Lavrov is speaking in Washington after meeting with President Donald Trump. "We have to start at a very low level".

The White House says Trump emphasized his desire for better relations with Russian Federation.

Lavrov says American politicians who are raising questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election are damaging the USA political system by suggesting it's being controlled by outsiders. "There is not a single fact (or) compelling evidence regarding Russia's intervention", he said. Their discussions centered on ISIS, humanitarian issues in Syria, and the conflict between Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Asked by a reporter if the firing would cast a shadow over his talks, Lavrov replied in a sarcastic tone: "Was he fired?"

Lavrov said the meeting mainly focussed on ideas of de-escalation zones in Syria. "You are kidding. You are kidding". With ongoing fighting paralyzing eastern Ukraine, the two foreign ministers discussed the need to fully implement the Minsk ceasefire agreement.

The US was not part of a deal by Damascus backers Russian Federation and Iran, and rebel supporter Turkey, signed Thursday in the Kazakh capital Astana on establishing safe zones in Syria. Trump often called for the creation of "safe zones" in Syria on the campaign trail as part of his reasoning to ban Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. Tillerson himself made a mention of "interim zones of stability" in an address to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, but has offered few details. While the Trump administration blamed Comey for mishandling the email investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the bureau chief's departure coincided with the FBI investigation of whether Trump's presidential bid was aided by Russian Federation. But many question whether the dismissal had anything to do with Comey being in charge of the investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russian Federation. Trump on Wednesday welcomed Vladimir Putin's top diplomat to the White House for Trump's highest level face-to-face contact with a Russian government official since he took office in January.

Trump underscored "the need for Russian Federation to rein in the Assad regime, Iran and Iranian proxies", the White House said. US intelligence concluded past year that the Kremlin was behind the meddling in the USA election.

Trump and Putin also spoke by phone last week about the war in Syria for the first time since Trump ordered a missile strike against a Syrian government air base last month after an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime. She says Tillerson told Lavrov that sanctions on Russian Federation over its actions in Ukraine will remain in place until Russian Federation changes course.

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