No “clean slate” be­tween US, Rus­sia: Tiller­son

US sec­re­tary of state RexTiller­son has said re­la­tions be­tween the US and Rus­sia are at their low­est point in decades. Rus­sia has been ac­cused of in­ter­fer­ing with the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion

The Daily News Egypt - - International -

DW—In an in­ter­view on Amer­i­can pol­i­tics talk show “Meet the Press,” US sec­re­tary of state Rex Tiller­son said Sun­day there was no way to “re­set” re­la­tions be­tween the US and Rus­sia.

US-Rus­sia re­la­tions have soured in re­cent years since Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of Crimea and Moscow’s sup­port of the Syr­ian govern­ment in the on­go­ing civil war, both of which the US op­posed. Rus­sia has also been ac­cused of in­ter­fer­ing with the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.Tiller­son ex­pe­ri­enced the cold re­la­tions first­hand in a tough meet­ing with his Rus­sian coun­ter­part last month.

“You can­not re­set. You can­not erase the past.You can­not start with a clean slate,” said Tiller­son. “We’re start­ing with the slate we have, and all the prob­lems we have are in that slate.”

Tiller­son said dur­ing the in­ter­view that re­la­tions be­tween the US and Rus­sia were at their low­est point since the end of the Cold War “with a very low level of trust.”

“It is not healthy for the world. It’s cer­tainly not healthy for us, for the Amer­i­can peo­ple, our na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­est and oth­er­wise, for this re­la­tion­ship to re­main at this low level,” said Tiller­son. “Whether we can im­prove it or not re­mains to be seen.”

Tiller­son added that he has re­ceived in­tel­li­gence that points to Rus­sia med­dling with the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

“I don’t think there’s any ques­tion that the Rus­sians were play­ing around in our elec­toral pro­cesses,” said Tiller­son, but he was not sure about what ef­fect it might have had.

Rus­sia has de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tion that it in­flu­enced last year’s US elec­tion to ben­e­fit pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Tiller­son, a for­mer ExxonMo­bil CEO who worked on oil deals with Rus­sia, was pre­vi­ously awarded the Or­der of Friend­ship from Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin. The Or­der of Friend­ship is one of the high­est hon­ors Rus­sia can give to a for­eign na­tional.

Mov­ing em­bassy in Israel?

Dur­ing the in­ter­view,Tiller­son was also pressed on po­ten­tially mov­ing the US em­bassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump promised to move the em­bassy dur­ing his cam­paign, but has backed off his pledge since tak­ing of­fice.

“The pres­i­dent is be­ing very care­ful to un­der­stand how such a de­ci­sion would im­pact the peace process,” saidTiller­son.

Pre­vi­ous US pres­i­dents have waived a US law that re­quires the em­bassy to be moved to Jerusalem. The cur­rent waiver, signed by for­mer US pres­i­dent Barack Obama, ex­pires on June 1.Trump is ex­pected to sign a re­newal of the waiver be­fore it ex­pires.

Jerusalem is a con­tentious is­sue in the Mid­dle East. Israel cap­tured East Jerusalem - claimed by Pales­tini­ans for the cap­i­tal of a fu­ture in­de­pen­dent state - from Jor­dan in 1967 and an­nexed it. The land grab has not been recog­nised on the in­ter­na­tional stage.

Is­raeli prime min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said Sun­day that mov­ing the em­bassy would help bring peace.

“Mov­ing the Amer­i­can em­bassy to Jerusalem would not only not harm the peace process, rather the op­po­site. It would ad­vance it by amend­ing a his­toric wrong and by shat­ter­ing the Pales­tinian fan­tasy that Jerusalem isn’t the cap­i­tal of Israel,” said Ne­tanyahu in a state­ment.

Pales­tinian au­thor­i­ties have yet to re­act to the state­ment.

Tiller­son added that he has re­ceived in­tel­li­gence that points to Rus­sia med­dling with the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion

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