(UPI) — President Donald Trump’s meeting Wednesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov comes a day after White House turmoil regarding the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
The White House meeting is the highest-level conference between Washington and Moscow since Trump’s inauguration. It had been scheduled for days but comes after Comey, whose agency is investigating possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, was fired. While the Trump administration blamed Comey for mishandling the emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Comey’s departure coincided with the FBI investigation of whether Trump’s presidential bid was aided by Russia.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Petrov, when asked Wednesday if Comey’s departure could affect relations between the United States and Russia, responded, “We hope it will not affect them at all. That is the United States’ internal affair.”
Lavrov met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, prior to the meeting with Trump. A senior U.S. official said the meeting was to concern implementation of the Minsk peace accords in Ukraine, and plans to de-escalate tensions in Syria, CNN reported.
Tillerson and Lavrov briefly spoke with the press after their talks, but offered no comment on their topics of discussion. When asked if Comey’s firing “cast a shadow” over the meeting, Lavrov looked surprised and answered, “Was he fired?” before telling the reporter in a deadpan voice, “You are kidding. You are kidding.”
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