Trump, after meeting Russian FM, says 'horrible killing in Syria must stop'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met first with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before making his way to meet Trump.

May 10, 2017 18:52
2 minute read.
Assad and Trump

Assad and Trump. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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US President Donald Trump met on Wednesday with Russia's top diplomat in the new administration's highest profile meeting since it assumed the White House in January.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, on his first official visit to Washington since Trump's election, met first with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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The president, according to Reuters, urged the Russian official during their meeting to help put an end to "the horrible killing in Syria," saying the civil war in the country "must stop."

"Trump emphasized the need to work together to end the conflict in Syria, in particular, underscoring the need for Russia to rein in the Assad regime, Iran, and Iranian proxies," the White House said in a statement.

Over half a million people have lost their lives in the Syrian civil war since it began in 2011, according to the UN.

Following his meeting with the president, Lavrov said that his discussions with people in the Trump administration persuaded him they were people of action who wanted to cut deals and solve problems.

Speaking at a news conference in the Russian embassy in Washington, Lavrov said that his talks with US officials had not covered the US sanctions imposed on Russia over its role in the Ukraine conflict.

He said the focus of his discussions had been on creating so-called de-escalation zones inside Syria.

"Now our dialog is free of the ideologisation that was characteristic of the Obama administration," Lavrov said. "The Trump administration, and the president himself, and the Secretary of State, I was persuaded of this once again today, are people of action."

Lavrov said the administration officials "want to reach agreements not for the sake of showing off their achievements in terms of ideological preferences, but to reach agreements into order to resolve specific issues."

Meanwhile, Trump defended his firing of FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday, fighting a storm of criticism that the ouster was aimed at blunting an agency probe into his presidential campaign's possible collusion with Russia to sway the 2016 election.

Trump later told reporters in the Oval Office Wednesday that Comey was fired because "he was not doing a good job."

Soon after Trump made the comment, The New York Times reported that Comey had requested additional money from the US Justice Department concerning the FBI's investigation into possible Russian ties to Trump and his associates.

Asked by reporters at the US State Department before a meeting with Tillerson if former Comey's firing would cast a shadow over the talks, Lavrov responded in a sarcastic tone: "Was he fired? You're kidding. You're kidding."

The Kremlin said it hoped Comey's firing would not affect Moscow's ties with Washington, saying it believed his dismissal had nothing to do with Russia.

Legal experts said Trump’s dismissal of Comey does not mean the FBI's Russia investigation will be disrupted or end, since career FBI staffers can continue the probe even as the search for a new director begins.

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