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Trump expresses desire to improve relations with Russia

IANS | Washington |

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday emphasised his desire to build a better relationship between the US and Russia, the White House said.

Meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Washington, Trump raised the possibility of broader cooperation on resolving conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere, Xinhua quoted the White House as saying.

The meeting came amid tensions between the US and Russia as the two countries hold differences on a slew of issues, including the Syrian conflict, the Ukrainian crisis and the expansion of NATO.

Trump, who has expressed hopes of repairing relations with Moscow, said last month that the US was "not getting along with Russia at all" and the relations between the two countries "may be at an all-time low."

At Wednesday's meeting, Trump emphasised the need to work together to end the conflict in Syria, underscoring the need for Russia to "rein in the Assad regime, Iran, and Iranian proxies."

After Trump ordered missile strikes on a Syria airbase last month in response to Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons, the Russian government condemned the military action, calling Washington's move "aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law."

On Ukraine, Trump expressed his Administration's commitment to remain engaged in resolving the conflict and stressed Russia's responsibility to fully implement the Minsk agreements.

The US, along with some European allies, has imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Russia in response to what they called the annexation of Crimea and destabilising activities in eastern Ukraine.

After the meeting, Lavrov told reporters that Trump confirmed his interest in building "mutually beneficial" relations with Russia. 

Earlier in the day, Lavrov held talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on a range of issues, including Ukraine, Syria, and bilateral concerns.