Trump warns Lavrov of Russian interference in presidential elections



WASHINGTON, Gretel Johnston and Eliyahu Kamisher (dpa)- US President Donald Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday and warned against any Russian attempts to interfere in the 2020 presidential elections, the White House said.
The purpose of the meeting - Lavrov's first trip to the United States in more than two years - remains vague.




In a statement, the White House said Lavrov along with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefed the president on the "state of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Russia."
Trump has often been criticized for appearing to take a soft stance on Russia and neglecting to criticize the Kremlin. However, the president has issued sanctions against Russia while facing pressure from lawmakers to take a tougher stance.
During a joint news conference Pompeo and Lavrov discussed cooperation on a number of areas, but reserved their strongest comments for the subject of interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
"I was clear. It's unacceptable, and I made our expectations of Russia clear," Pompeo said.
The next US presidential elections are due in November next year.
Lavrov said US allegations that Russia interfered in 2016 are "baseless" and referred to "waves of suspicion" that had overcome Washington despite "no proof of any collusion" by Russia in special counsel Robert Mueller's report.
Mueller determined after a lengthy investigation that Russia did interfere in a manner aimed at helping elect Trump.
Pompeo and Lavrov met on the same day that Democrats in Congress introduced articles of impeachment against Trump over his dealings with Ukraine.
According to the White House statement Trump "urged" Russia to resolve its conflict with Ukraine, emphasized his support for a global arms control pact that includes Russia and China and spoke about "positive steps" that can be taken regarding detained citizens.
They also discussed issues relating to China, Iran and North Korea.
On Syria, the Pompeo and Lavrov said they were keeping the lines of communication open and repeated their belief that there must be a political solution. They also discussed a possible extension of an arms-control agreement that expires next year.
Lavrov said the meeting confirmed that "it is useful to talk with each other however difficult it is."
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Wednesday, December 11th 2019
Gretel Johnston and Eliyahu Kamisher (dpa)
           


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