Trump, Russia discuss Syria, Iran amid FBI controversy
WASHINGTON: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met President Donald Trump on Wednesday and praised the United States administration as problem solvers, just as the White House drew criticism over the firing of the Federal Bureau of Investigation director who was leading a probe into Moscow’s alleged interference in US politics.
The talks with Lavrov were the highest-level public contact between Trump and the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin since the Republican took office on Jan 20.
It is a rare privilege for a foreign minister to be received by a US president for a bilateral meeting in the White House.
Trump on Tuesday fired FBI director James Comey, as the agency was investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and the possibility Trump associates might have colluded with Moscow.
Democrats accused Trump of trying to slow down the investigation by firing the FBI chief.
Days before Comey was fired, he requested more resources to pursue his investigation.
It was unclear whether word of the Comey request, put to Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein, ever made its way to Trump.
Trump described his talks with Lavrov as “very, very good.”
Asked whether the Comey dismissal had affected his meeting, Trump said: “Not at all.”
He and Lavrov said they discussed the civil war in Syria, where Russia backs President Bashar al-Assad.
“We want to see the killing, the horrible killing, stopped in Syria as soon as possible and everyone is working toward that end,” Trump said.