U.S. weighs re­sponse to Rus­sian move

In meet­ing, Tiller­son sought an­swers on de­ci­sion to ex­pel Amer­i­can en­voys

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS - JOSH LE­D­ER­MAN In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Nataliya Vasi­lyeva and Deb Riech­mann of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

MANILA, Philip­pines — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has yet to de­cide how to re­spond to Rus­sia’s move to ex­pel hun­dreds of Amer­i­can diplo­mats but plans to de­liver a re­sponse to Moscow by Sept. 1, Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said Mon­day.

A day af­ter sit­ting down in the Philip­pines with Rus­sia’s top diplo­mat, Tiller­son said he’d asked “clar­i­fy­ing ques­tions” about the Krem­lin’s re­tal­i­a­tion an­nounced last month in re­sponse to new sanc­tions passed by Congress. Trump signed the bill last week. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has strug­gled to de­ter­mine how Rus­sia’s move will af­fect the U.S. diplo­matic pres­ence in the coun­try, as well as the broader im­pli­ca­tions for the trou­bled re­la­tion­ship be­tween the nu­clear-armed pow­ers.

De­spite the move, Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov emerged from the meet­ing declar­ing a readi­ness for more en­gage­ment with the U.S. on North Korea, Syria and Ukraine, among other is­sues. Tiller­son broadly echoed that sen­ti­ment, say­ing the two coun­tries had crit­i­cal na­tional se­cu­rity is­sues to dis­cuss de­spite deep dis­agree­ments on some mat­ters.

“I don’t think it is use­ful to just cut ev­ery­thing off on one sin­gle is­sue,” Tiller­son said af­ter his first meet­ing with Lavrov since the new sanc­tions were im­posed. “These are two very large coun­tries and we should find places that we can work to­gether, let’s try to work to­gether. Places we have our dif­fer­ences, we’re go­ing to have to con­tinue to find a way to ad­dress those.”

Tiller­son also said that Rus­sia has been show­ing “some will­ing­ness” to start talk­ing about a res­o­lu­tion to the cri­sis in Ukraine, de­void of real progress for years. That assess­ment came as Lavrov an­nounced that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion had com­mit­ted to send­ing its new spe­cial en­voy for Ukraine ne­go­ti­a­tions, Kurt Volker, to Moscow to dis­cuss next steps.

Yet sev­eral ob­sta­cles hang over any at­tempt to pur­sue a pre­vi­ous U.S. move to tighten more func­tional U.S.-Rus­sia ex­ist­ing Rus­sia sanc­tions. re­la­tion­ship: the new U. S. Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion sanc­tions, Rus­sia’s re­tal­ia­tory has ar­gued there’s good rea­son move to ex­pel diplo­mats, for the U.S. to seek a more and the on­go­ing U.S. Jus­tice pro­duc­tive re­la­tion­ship. Tiller­son Depart­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion has cited mod­est signs into Rus­sia’s elec­tion med­dling of progress in Syria, where and pos­si­ble Trump the U.S. and Rus­sia re­cently cam­paign col­lu­sion. bro­kered a cease-fire in the

Fear­ing that Trump might war-torn coun­try’s south­west, move to ease sanc­tions on as a sign there’s fer­tile ground Rus­sia, Congress last month for co­op­er­a­tion. passed new leg­is­la­tion that The Syr­ian cease-fire re­flected both added more sanc­tions a re­turn of U.S.-Rus­sia and made it harder for the co­op­er­a­tion to lower vi­o­lence pres­i­dent to lift them. Trump there. The U.S. had looked and Tiller­son op­posed the war­ily at a se­ries of safe zones leg­is­la­tion, but fac­ing a likely in Syria that Rus­sia had ne­go­ti­ated veto over­ride, Trump signed along with Turkey and the bill. Iran — but not the U.S.

Moscow’s re­sponse to the Tiller­son said Rus­sian med­dling sanc­tions was to an­nounce it in the elec­tion had “cre­ated would force the U.S. to cut se­ri­ous mis­trust be­tween its em­bassy and con­sulate our two coun­tries.” Although staff in Rus­sia by 755 peo­ple. he and other Cab­i­net of­fi­cials That move stoked con­fu­sion have main­tained that po­si­tion in Wash­ing­ton, given that con­sis­tently, Trump has re­peat­edly the U.S. is be­lieved to have ques­tioned U.S. in­tel­li­gence far fewer than 755 Amer­i­can about Moscow’s in­volve­ment em­ploy­ees in Rus­sia. while deny­ing any

Lavrov, de­scrib­ing his col­lu­sion with his cam­paign. meet­ing with Tiller­son, said Rus­sia and the U.S. had agreed to re­sume a high-level diplo­matic chan­nel that Moscow had sus­pended af­ter a

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