Tillerson, Lavrov discuss damaged US-Russia ties
Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election has created "serious mistrust" between Washington and Moscow and damaged mutual ties, according to American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Tillerson made the remarks on Sunday after he held a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Manila, the Philippines, where they attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.
The top US diplomat said he had warned Lavrov that the United States would respond to Moscow’s decision of expelling hundreds of American diplomats from Russia.
"Russian meddling in the elections was certainly a serious incident. We talked about that in the discussion that we had with Mr. Lavrov yesterday," Tillerson told reporters.
"And trying to help him understand just how serious this incident had been and how seriously it had damaged the relationship between the US and the American people and the Russian people, that this had created serious mistrust and that we simply have to find some way to deal with that,” he added.
Lavrov asks US to pull back from confrontation
Following the meeting, Lavrov also spoke to reporters. He said Moscow is ready to normalize relations with the US if it “pulls back from confrontation.”
The Russian foreign minister said the US diplomat raised the issue of Moscow’s order of expelling diplomats in response to the new round of sanctions against Russia.
“He was interested, first of all, in the details of those decisions that we had been forced to take in response to the adopted anti-Russian bill passed by the US Congress,” he said. “We gave him the explanations.”
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday, “Lavrov pointed out that the US law on sanctions against Russia has become another link in the chain of steps unfriendly and dangerous for international stability, striking a powerful blow to the prospects for bilateral cooperation,”
“Naturally, such actions, including the illegal retention of our diplomatic property since December of last year, could not remain unanswered, and won’t be in the future. At the same time, we are ready to normalize our dialogue if Washington pulls back from confrontation,” the statement read.