Published: Fri, May 12, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Trump to meet top Russian diplomat at the White House

The visit by Russia's longtime foreign minister is the first since August 2013, a sign of the high-stakes conversations between the two countries, even as Tillerson and others have said the relationship is at an all-time low.

The White House says President Donald Trump will meet Wednesday with Vladimir Putin's top diplomat, marking the highest level, face-to-face contact with Russian Federation of the American leader's young presidency.

Comey had recently testified on Capitol Hill about FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections and links between Moscow and Trump campaign officials.

Lavrov, who is on a working visit to the US from May 9-to 11 will first meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss Ukraine, Syria and other bilateral issues, then proceed to his meeting with the President.

The sigma of the Russian Federation probes has been impossible for Trump to shake. Ties soured further in April after the US blamed a Russian ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, for a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians and Trump fired some 60 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base in response.

The president on Tuesday abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, dramatically ousting the nation's most senior law enforcement official in the middle of the bureau's investigation into Mr Trump's ties with Russian Federation.

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On Tuesday, media reported that Lavrov would meet Trump during the working visit to the United States. Trump insisted that wasn't the case.

Lavrov chalked up the controversy to "noise" and to "false news" - invoking Trump's frequent references to the Russian Federation allegations as "fake news".

On Syria, where Russian Federation has backed President Bashar Assad's forces and the USA has supported anti-Assad rebels, the talks appeared to indicate a slight narrowing of differences.

Washington has given the plan an extremely cautious welcome, citing concerns about Iran's role as a guarantor. The would-be safe zones would not cover areas where the US -led coalition is fighting IS.

US-Russian relations have been strained over Russian support for the Syrian regime, and Tillerson said the US is looking to stabilize broader US-Russian relations by both addressing minor irritants and finding areas of cooperation.

"Putin doesn't want to follow the lead of those who are trying to poison our relations to the point of no return", he told reporters.

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