Tillerson, Lavrov Hold Talks, But Face Uphill Battle

Aaron Brown
August 9, 2017

While Russia lashes out against the United States, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has adopted a subdued tone on bilateral relations, saying on Monday that Washington wouldn't sever ties with Moscow after the mass expulsion of US diplomatic staff, and stressing that the two countries need to find ways to work together.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono held talks Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Manila, their first meeting since Kono took up his post in a Cabinet reshuffle last week.

The statement said that countries which supported the measures were "scared by the USA threat of sanctions", pledging "physical action" and a "substantial action of justice" by the North Korean military and people against them.

Russian Federation will speed up efforts to reduce dependence on the USA dollar and credit-card system in the wake of tough new sanctions imposed by Washington, a top diplomat says.

The sanctions, which passed both houses of Congress by overwhelming majorities despite Trump's objections, in part target the Russian energy sector, with new limits on USA investment in Russian companies.

Speaking on Rossiya24 state TV, Lavrov also said Tillerson told him the United States' special representative on Ukraine, Kurt Volker, a former US envoy to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, would meet a senior aide to Putin, Vladimir Surkov, "in the nearest future".

While Tillerson noted that Russian election interference had "created serious mistrust between our two countries", Trump has continued to express doubt about the meddling, especially while stressing his distrust in the US intelligence community. Tillerson said Monday they would deliver a response to Moscow by September 1.

Trump has been largely dismissive of the investigations in Washington over the Russian election interference, calling them a "witch hunt" and an excuse by Democrats to explain his upset victory over his Democratic challenger, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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Lavrov " who met with Tillerson in the Philippines on Sunday " says he explained how Russian Federation will carry out its response.

Russian Federation will speed up work on reducing its dependence on USA payment systems and the dollar as a settling currency in response to US sanctions, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday.

Trump has played down the allegations, but the ongoing controversy cast a pall over already tense ties, which most recently saw President Vladimir Putin order the United States diplomatic mission in Moscow cut 755 personnel. Let's try to work together.

Ryabkov expressed doubt that significant US-EU differences on the issue of anti-Russia sanctions were possible, adding that he did not believe in Europe's independence.

The Trump administration named Volker to the position in July.

He added that Russian Federation needs alternative, independent payment systems that do not depend on foreign processing centers, and that the Mir national payment system is a step in the right direction. And the two countries continue to discuss expanding their limited cease-fire with Jordan in Syria's southwest corner, weeks after it was implemented and which has seen few violations. "At the same time, we are ready to normalize the dialogue, if Washington gives up the confrontational line", Tass news agency quoted the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying in a statement on Sunday. Mr Lavrov reiterated the need to respect in full Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the provisions of the UN Security Council resolutions that lay the foundations for advancing the political process.

"I think, it is indicative of the importance that the United States pays and places upon this relationship with ASEAN", he said.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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