Russian FM Lavrov Holds Press Conference After Meeting With Trump, Tillerson

© REUTERS / Yuri GripasU.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before their meeting at the State Department in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2017.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before their meeting at the State Department in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2017. - Sputnik International
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a press conference in the Russian embassy in Washington DC following his meeting with US President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday, May 10.

What Was Discussed

Sergei Lavrov started the presser off by saying that he had discussed bilateral cooperation between the US and Russia with US President Trump and State Secretary Tillerson. He said that Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have also been discussed.

Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are looking for tangible results of Wednesday's talks.

"There is a desire to move into the direction of settlement of all these problems… Both President Trump and President Putin are willing to attain concrete results that would help removing problems from the international agenda."

"In the recent telephone conversation the presidents confirmed that they’re going to meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg at the beginning of July," Lavrov stated. "They are going to see each other in July."

Syria Safe Zones

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He said that the US and Russian sides agreed that international issues should be solved jointly. The Syrian settlement and the Russia-sponsored plan to create Syrian safe zones were discussed, he said. The US and Russia agreed to continue working in the framework of Astana and Geneva peace talks between Damascus and Syrian rebels.

Russia and the US reached a conceptual agreement on geographical aspects of the de-escalations zones in Syria, Lavrov said.

"Today we have discussed the specific ways to jointly implement these agreements," Lavrov stated, referring to the safe zones in Syria. "We hope that the frameworks within which this process is evolving will be acceptable to all parties."

Lavrov added, "We certainly welcome US cooperation on the matter and hope that it will help move forward political settlement in Syria."

"We agree with Trump that the most important thing to do in Syria is to defeat terrorism," he said.

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When asked if Russia has an "exit strategy," Lavrov said that there's no such thing and all sides must comply with their obligations.

"We do not have such a notion as exit strategy, all of us should deliver on what we agreed upon," Lavrov stated. "We need to implement the UN Security Council resolutions, we need to suppress all terrorism modification in Syria."

Representatives of the countries-guarantors of the truce in Syria (Russia, Iran, Turkey) signed on May 4 a memorandum on the creation of four zones of de-escalation in Syria, which include the province of Idlib and seven other regions. According to the memorandum, any clashes between the government forces and opposition armed groups must stop within the zones.

The memorandum on these de-escalation zones took effect on May 6.

Bilateral Ties, Sanctions

Lavrov said that both Moscow and Washington want to remove all barriers for effective cooperation.

When asked if US sanctions against Russia were discussed, Lavrov said that Russia doesn't discuss such issues with foreign partners.

"We don't discuss sanctions. It is not our problem. It is one-sided actions taken against us."

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with US President Barack Obama (L) before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit plenary session at the International Convention Center in Beijing on November 11, 2014 - Sputnik International
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However, he said that Russian diplomatic property's seizure in the US as part of the last sanctions imposed on Russia by the former US administration has been discussed. Lavrov said that Obama's decision was "illegitimate."

Lavrov noted that the question of seized Russian property has been discussed in meetings with US officials.

"Everyone, including the Trump administration, understands that these were illegitimate actions," Lavrov stated. "We have a right to respond, but we have decided not to do it yet."

Late December, 2016, Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia over alleged interference in the November election. The Obama administration ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, the closure of two Russian diplomatic compounds and new sanctions against six Russian individuals and five entities, including the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) and the Federal Security Service (FSB).

The Kremlin responded to US sanctions imposed on Thursday by declaring that they “will not resort to irresponsible ‘kitchen diplomacy,’” and reiterated their hopes to work toward a better relationship with the US when President-elect Trump takes office.

Dialogue With Trump vs Dialogue With Obama

He said that the Russia-US dialogue stopped being "ideologized" after this approach had been chosed by the Barack Obama administration. He said that the Trump administration is set to make deals with its partners.

He said that Trump's administration is business-like and willing to negotiate certain issues.

"Our dialogue as of now is free from ideology that was very typical for Obama’s administration," Lavrov stated. "Both Trump and Secretary of State and his administration as I realized today once again are business-like people and they want to reach agreements not for the sake of demonstrating their achievements to anyone in terms of their ideological preferences."

Alleged Russian Role in US Election

US President Donald Trump speaks on the phone - Sputnik International
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Lavrov said that it is "embarrassing" for the US to say Russia is influencing its political system, adding that the United States is a "great" country.

"It's humiliating for American people to believe that the Russian Federation is controlling the domestic situation in the United States. How can it be possible for such a great power?" Lavrov stated during a press conference following his meetings with Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

When asked if Trump discussed the issue of alleged Russian interference in the November 2016 election, Lavrov said that such a "mayhem" has not been part of the discussion as the sides focused on "concrete" issues.

"There's no single fact proving the claims," he said. "We know Trump's position and the positions of those who claim the opposite," Lavrov said commenting on claims of alleged Russian influence on the US election process.

Russian officials have repeatedly denied allegations of interfering in the US election, and have characterized the charges as an absurd attempt to distract the US public from domestic concerns.

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