Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow was ready to talk to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's new administration about nuclear weapons and Syria, saying the two countries could together solve many of the world's problems.
Lavrov, speaking days before Trump's inauguration, used an annual news conference to flag potential areas of cooperation and to belittle what he described as malicious attempts to link Trump to Russia in a negative light.
Trump, who has praised President Vladimir Putin, has signaled he wants to improve strained ties with Russia despite U.S. intelligence agencies alleging the Kremlin chief ordered a cyber campaign to help him beat rival Hillary Clinton to the White House.
|Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova attend a news conference in Moscow, Russia, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Russia denies it tried to sway the U.S. election by hacking or other means. It has also dismissed as a fabrication a dossier written by a former officer in Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, which suggested Moscow had collected compromising information about Trump.
Lavrov dismissed the dossier's author, Christopher Steele, as "a fugitive charlatan from MI6" and said the dossier looked like part of a campaign to cause problems for Trump and his allies. Putin on Tuesday called the same dossier a hoax.
While cautioning that the new U.S. administration would need to settle in before wider conclusions could be drawn, Lavrov signaled he was encouraged by the tenor of the Trump team's statements so far which he said suggested it would be possible to have a pragmatic relationship.
"Trump has a particular set of views which differ a lot from his predecessor," said Lavrov, who accused the Obama administration of wrecking cooperation across a swath of areas and of trying to recruit Russian diplomats as agents.
"By concentrating on a pragmatic search for mutual interests we can solve a lot of problems."
He said Syria was one of the most promising areas for cooperation, saying the Kremlin had welcomed Trump's statement that he wanted to make fighting global terrorism a priority.
"What we hear from Donald Trump (on Syria) and his team speaks to how they have a different approach (to Obama) and won't resort to double standards," said Lavrov.Reuters