11:20 GMT +322 February 2017
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    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) listens to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (2ndR) at the start of a meeting at the World Conference Center in Bonn, Germany February 16, 2017.

    Awkward: Tillerson and Lavrov First Meeting Makes Journalists Cringe

    © REUTERS/ Brendan Smialowski/POOL
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    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov for the first time, during the G20 foreign ministers’ summit in Bonn, Germany. The first meeting between the foreign ministers was marked with several moments of awkwardness.

    For the first time since his February 1 confirmation, Tillerson met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. As would be typical for a meeting between diplomats, they shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.

    Ordinarily, the two would deliver opening remarks, take one or two impromptu questions, and then adjourn to speak in private. Lavrov greeted Tillerson by congratulating him on his appointment. A journalist then asked Lavrov about Russia's stance on the resignation of US President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn. 

    "You should know we do not interfere in the domestic matters of other countries," Lavrov replied.

    But when Tillerson began to speak, instead of returning the introduction or taking questions on his own, his staffers rushed the journalists out of the room. Lavrov was visibly surprised by this. "Why did you shush them out?" the Russian top diplomat asked.

    After the private meeting concluded, Tillerson appeared before the media and read a statement. "Foreign Minister Lavrov and I had a productive meeting," he said. "We discussed a range of issues of mutual concern."

    The Secretary of State said, "The US will consider working with Russia when we can find areas of practical cooperation that will benefit the American people. Where we don't see eye to eye, the US will stand up for the interest and values of America and her allies."

    Tillerson also called on Russia to honor its enforcement of the Minsk Protocol, meant to end the fighting in the Donbass region in Ukraine. Anti-Kiev rebels continue to battle with Ukrainian armed forces in a conflict that has claimed over 7,000 lives since 2014. Moscow repeatedly denied any involvement in the civil war in Ukraine.

    Tillerson did not take questions, instead walking out after his brief statement. A former CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson has no experience in politics or international diplomacy.

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (2ndL), Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (3rdR) and others wait for the start of a meeting at the World Conference Center in Bonn, Germany February 16, 2017.
    © REUTERS/ Brendan Smialowski/POOL

    On the Russian side, Lavrov stressed that sanctions were not discussed, but those in favor of them should consider "how much the artificial desire to politicize this subject meets the interests of the countries concerned." The Russian diplomat also delivered a general message of cooperation between the two powers.

    Between Tillerson's comments regarding the conflict in Donbass and the White House's comments regarding Crimea on Tuesday, it appears that Ukraine will remain a major point of contention in US-Russia relations.

    Regarding a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump, the Foreign Minister said that, "the two Presidents will meet when they decide that it's the right time."

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    Tags:
    US-Russia relations, Donbass conflict, diplomacy, Rex Tillerson, Sergei Lavrov, Germany, Bonn
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    • avatar
      vigilante
      It is absurd to expect that Trump will recognize the annexion of Crimea and remove the sanctions so soon.
      It will take a year or two. In the meantime Russia and the USA will colloborate on important subject, the main one been the fight against ISIS.
      The USA is helping the iraqis in that task and Russia is helping the Syrians. They are bound to communicate with each other and discuss way of accelerating the fall of ISIS in both countries.
      Ukraine will be a nuisance but should nor prevent cooperation in other countries ( Yemen, Libya for example) in the fight against ISIS
    • avatar
      seanrkearney
      Does not really sound like anything has changed or will. Can't say I'm surprised.
    • JoyInStruggle
      I strongly object to the use of the misleading term "anti-Kiev rebels" in the article. Remember the violent 22 Feb 2014 coup? What is that, if not rebellion? So the real rebels are the Naxis who took over in Kiev.

      The people in the Donbass remained loyal to the legitimate government, the government they voted for. They are loyalists, not rebels. For three years, they have been strugling to survive Kiev's genocidal crusade.

      The victims of this genocide are anti-fascist, not "anti-Kiev". The people of the Donbass did not attack Kiev: Kiev attacked them, and has murdered 10,000, not 7,000. Why fault the victims of this genocide, and not the perpetrators? The free republics of the Donbass are pro-human, pro-life, pro-freedom: They should be applauded, not condemned!

      If the author is trying to appease the Naxis or appease the West, that is not a god idea. The fascists regard every concession as an invitation to do even more harm. They are not impressed by weakness.
    • avatar
      Gospel
      We will only work with you when it suits us and we will not work with you when it suits us. That's really what he said. Deranged. If I was Lavrov I would have insisted the media stay and say RUssia also cooperates when it suits us.
    • avatar
      PaleRider
      Disappointing to say the least.
    • avatar
      karlof1
      Did Tillerson even read Minsk2? There's nothing for Russia to enforce!! The entire onus is on the Kiev Junta and it's proven 100% unwilling to do anything it's supposed to do! To me, this meeting seemed 100% unprofessional.
    • avatar
      jas
      That is how it has to be for the time being. It all because of the hysterical Deep State media. It would have only been a waste of time to try and treat the media like professionals.
    • Arius Armenian
      The Trump administration looks and sounds more like Obama with every passing day.
    • avatar
      jasin reply toArius Armenian(Show commentHide comment)
      Arius Armenian, Trump didn't sound like Obama at his press conference. Trump is going after those yahoos. It's almost certain that at least one person is going to prison over the telephone conversation leaks.
    • avatar
      jas
      "Why did you shush them out?" the Russian top diplomat asked.
      --
      I think this is a blatant lie. That doesn't sound like Lavrov at all.
    • avatar
      PaleRider
      It's too bad that Trump was not heading that meeting. Trump's news conference today was outstanding, if not the best in US history, calm, reserved, cutting, and humorous to the bone. He ate the MSM's Lunch!
    • avatar
      ivanwa88
      The Secretary of State said, "The US will consider working with Russia when we can find areas of practical cooperation that will benefit the American people. Where we don't see eye to eye, the US will stand up for the interest and values of America and her allies."

      Tillerson overstating the obvious and normal stance or 'projected' aim!
      but then the concept is that diplomacy kicks in and delivers a palatable version and congenial discussions begin.

      Well seems that's not the case as the comment on Minsk was a blatant shot across the bows and a gross provocation that they got away with as the media was whisked out by Tillerson.

      Im afraid Lavrov should have told the reporters the remark on Minsk was ill conceived and blatantly mindless and a disgrace perhaps finishing that Tillerson should confirm his facts and knowledge on Minsk before showing gross ignorance and inaccuracy as Minsk has no requirement for Russia to be involved in its application that is purely up to Ukraine to implement.

      Much much more could have been achieved especially as innocent people are being shelled by Nazis those deaths are made unimportant and mere collateral damage by Tillersons cheap shot who has lost a lot of credibility in following a CIA mandate foolishly.
    • avatar
      ivanwa88
      That whole stunt by Tillerson was designed and premeditated to score a mindless win in a first up meeting which was hijacked by a smart arse dick head who insults those innocent people being murdered by nazis in Ukraine.

      What a narcissistic way to proceed, the tone obviously set by neocons who were voted against comprehensively in last elections Trumps voters must be seething with this disgraceful start by Tillerson.
    • avatar
      jasin reply toivanwa88(Show commentHide comment)
      ivanwa88, trump will even say that they are still getting their people in place because Schumer and others are stalling in the Senate. But I think it will calm down once Trump gets a few scalps and he is after them.
    • avatar
      jasin reply toivanwa88(Show commentHide comment)
      ivanwa88, Not me. First of all, most of the article is probably lies and out of context. I don't believe for a second that Lavrov would have questioned Tillerson like that. With the coup attempt in full swing, Tillerson was probably instructed to be cool until the confirmation hearings are down and the trump cabinet is in power. I was pissed last night, but trump did a good job today and made it clear that he is NOT going anywhere.
    • avatar
      ivanwa88
      jas....even so my point is that a disgraceful cheap shot was effected regarding Minsk which was obviously planned in what should have been a meet and greet meeting and some discussions on finding solutions and locating the common ground.
      I doubt the statement on Minsk was not made that blatant misconception and lie must stop feeding Americans BS is an Obama treat not a Trump delicacy all it did was to make Tillerson a disciple of Obama and Hillary as I said a total disgrace I held great hopes for Tillerson especially with those joint exploration programs that Obama aborted costing Tillersons company Billions yet the guy is just a smart arse I would have loved to have been there at Lavrovs side I would have personally told him he was acting like a wanker.
    • avatar
      ivanwa88
      P.S. Im also manifestly disappointed Lavrov did not seize that critical psychological moment to correct the lie on Minsk.
      Im afraid as wonderful as Lavrov has been he was overshadowed and stunned by a rude narcissistic tosser surely one would expect that form of projected behavior from him its written all over him.

      Lavrov obviously let him have a victory but I dont agree it was far more important to correct that blatant misconception on Minsk being promoted further it was cheap shot at the expense of innocent human lives unforgivable.
      Which seems obvious that was Tillersons planned objective to manifest the lie on Minsk.
    • avatar
      ivanwa88
      P.S.S. cant help feel a strong retort from Lavrov would have taken some heat off Tillerson at home whilst also correcting the unpalatable lie on Minsk.
    • siberianhusky
      Difficult if not impossible to meet the standards, quality and skill of Lavrov by Tillerson
    • chiliboots
      Anybody who thinks America is still a 'pushover'
      better think, again. That means NATO, the 'EU',
      the 'UN' and yes, Russia and China.
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