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Trump Urges Russia to Restrain Assad Regime , Iran

11 May 2017

Trump plans to meet with Lavrov on Wednesday, according to his schedule.

"Was he fired?" he asked sarcastically.

Trump said this as he hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House, a day after he abruptly sacked FBI chief James Comey who was leading the investigation into Russias meddling in the polls that brought him to power.

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Russian Federation denies the allegations. The Kremlin website said Putin and Trump were "in favour of organizing a personal meeting in connection with a meeting of the G20 summit". "We're going to stop the killing and the death (in Syria)". He and Lavrov said they discussed the civil war in Syria, where Russian Federation backs President Bashar al-Assad.

Trump's first face-to-face with a senior Russian official since taking office comes amid a firestorm over Trump's dismissal of Comey, who was overseeing a probe into Russian meddling in the US election.

In his earlier meeting with Lavrov, Tillerson emphasized the US wouldn't lift sanctions on Russian Federation related to Ukraine until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered the punishment - namely, its Crimea annexation.

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When a reporter asked whether the dismissal has "cast a shadow" over their talks, Lavrov stopped and seemed to look genuinely quizzical when he responded, "Was he fired?" - but then adopted a deadpan tone as he told the reporter, "You are kidding, you are kidding". "You are kidding. You are kidding". The White House failed in its official readout of the session to mention Kislyak's inclusion, and American journalists were not permitted to observe the meeting or even photograph the attendees before private talks, which is common. The Russian Foreign Ministry posted a photo of a smiling US President shaking hands with Lavrov on Twitter, adding unusual and ironic optics to the questions already swirling around the White House over Comey's firing.

Tensions in the relationship grew following US air strikes against a Syrian airfield in April in response to a chemical weapons attack that Washington blamed on Assad.

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. Trump often called for the creation of "safe zones" in Syria on the campaign trail as part of his reasoning to ban Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. Tillerson himself made a mention of "interim zones of stability" in an address to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, but has offered few details. But it's not uncommon for meetings with lower-level officials to occur without press coverage.

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The Syria issue was also discussed as Lavrov said, "We have thoroughly discussed the Syrian issue, particularly the ideas related to setting up de-escalation zones".