News ID: 192469
Published: 0951 GMT May 10, 2017

Trump to meet Lavrov at White House on Wednesday

Trump to meet Lavrov at White House on Wednesday

US President Donald Trump will host Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House to discuss the Syria crisis and other international issues.

The meeting will be held on Wednesday and will be closed to the press, according to the White House.

Before his meeting with Trump, Lavrov will hold talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as Moscow seeks US support for its plan to establish safe zones in Syria.

On May 4, Iran, Russia and Turkey signed an agreement to create four de-escalation zones in northern, central and southern Syria, where the most intense fighting is happening between the Syrian government and different militant groups, including Daesh. The plan came into effect at midnight on Friday.

A day after the agreement was signed, Lavrov talked with Tillerson on the phone. The two diplomats discussed how to stabilize a ceasefire that has been in place in Syria since late last year.

Wednesday's meeting will also be the highest level, face-to-face contact between Trump and a senior official from the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin since Trump took office on January 20.

Officials said it would signal an improvement in ties after relations cooled following a US missile strike against a Syrian airfield last month in response to a suspected chemical attack that Washington blamed on the Syrian government.

The meeting also comes a day after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, whose agency is investigating potential contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials prior to the 2016 presidential election.

The FBI has concluded that President Putin ordered a wide-ranging campaign to tilt the US election in favor of Trump.

In October, Washington formally accused Moscow of a campaign of cyber operations against American political organizations ahead of the presidential election. The Kremlin has categorically denied the accusations.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Trump’s major rival, claimed she was close to winning the November election until the FBI director publicly announced an investigation into her use of a personal email server. She also blamed Russia’s alleged interference in the election for her loss.

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