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Trump tells Russian diplomat he wants 'a better relationship'

Donald Trump criticised over firing of FBI director SIPA USA PA Images
Eleena Tovar | 11 May, 2017, 08:59

FBI Director James Comey, the man leading an investigation to potential Russian meddling in the election, was unceremoniously sacked by Mr Trump the day before the meeting, and the suprise move undoubtedly cast a shadow over Mr Lavrov's visit.

Moscow and Washington can and should solve global issues together, TASS news agency quoted Lavrov as saying following his meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Trump.

The Russian diplomat scoffed at reporters who asked him about Comey's firing.

Lavrov stopped, turned around, and asked, "Was he fired?". "He was sacked? You are kidding!"

The Washington Post reports that Comey had requested more resources from the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the alleged collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, according to two unidentified officials, a week before he was sacked by Trump.

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

"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.

On the other hand, the White House clearly want nothing more than for Comey's dismissal to signal the end of the Russian Federation scandal.

"We hope it will not affect them at all", he answered.

Trump, who has expressed hopes of repairing relations with Moscow, said last month that the US was "not getting along with Russian Federation at all" and the relations between the two countries "may be at an all-time low". "Americans are learning about what Trump is doing with Russian Federation from Russia, not from the White House", observed Axios news.

Former US National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was forced to resign for failing to disclose the content of his talks with Kislyak and then misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.

In particular, Tillerson and Lavrov are expected to discuss the "de-escalation zones" inside Syria that Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed to create last week. He told journalists they discussed today specific ways to jointly implement the four zones, adding that he expected USA input particularly in the one along Syria's border with Israel and Jordan.

Regardless, the timing doesn't look good for Trump.

Clearly impatient with journalists' repeated questions about Mr Comey, Mr Lavrov rejected claims that Moscow had intervened in the presidential election as "fabrications". The would-be safe zones would not cover areas where the USA -led coalition is fighting IS.