U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov today in Russia for a meeting that lasted more than two hours. During the following press conference, they touched upon the topics discussed in the meeting, including Syria and North Korea.

Lavrov’s Perspective

According to Lavrov, they have agreed to designate “special envoys” to have pragmatic conversations to improve Russian-American relations. Lavrov also stated that “we understand each other better” after the talks today.

It seems that the USA and Russia still don’t quite see eye-to-eye on the Syrian crisis, as Russia is calling for an “unbiased and frank investigation” on the chemical attacks by the OPCW. Lavrov asserted that ousting Assad could lead to an ISIS victory in Syria.

Lavrov pointed out during the time questions that the grounds for the invasion of Iraq were fake, and that the situation in Libya has spiraled out of control after U.S. intervention there in 2011 that led to the capture and death of Muammar Gaddafi. He said that “a successful ouster of a dictator is for me very hard to remember, if you have any examples I would be glad if you can share them with me.”

The Russian foreign secretary also stated his Syrian policy, which he claims correlates with a UN Security Council resolution, saying that “the future of Syria has to be determined by the Syrians themselves, without any exemptions.” He asserted that when discussing how a country needs to be built it needs to be democratic and safe for all parties involved.

Lavrov was also asked whether he saw any evidence from Tillerson that there was election hacking interference in the U.S. election. He sharply rejected this, saying that he had not seen any evidence of Russian involvement.

Tillerson’s Perspective

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson continues to remark that Assad was behind the latest chemical weapons attacks in Syria and that Russia is an ally of Assad. However, it seems that both the USA and Russia agree that North Korea needs to be denuclearized.

Tillerson also said that Russian-American relations were at a new low point and that the world’s leading nuclear powers “cannot have this relationship.” Tillerson said that the USA and Russia “both believe in a unified and stable Syria,” and that they will deny a safe haven for terrorists who want to target both countries.  Tillerson stated in agreement with Lavrov that the USA and Russia need to improve their channels of communication.

There were also apparently talks about how they can settle the conflicts in Libya, Yemen, Israel, and Afghanistan, according to Lavrov though little details were given. However, Tillerson stated that the situation in Ukraine will “remain an obstacle to an improvement in relations between the U.S and Russia.”

Tillerson also spoke on the election hacking scandal which he says is a relatively new problem in the international community, saying that “clearly this is an issue that has emerged in our time for which we have yet as an international community come to some conclusion around how we want to respond to that, so there will be further discussions and it is on the agenda.” He clarified asserting that there is a distinction between cyber tools for election hacking and cyber tools for disrupting weapons programs.

Noteworthy Conclusions

In short, we can pull from this meeting that the USA and Russia want to improve their relations, work closer to establishing a solution to the Syria crisis, despite their differences on the topic, and stand together against the nuclear threat from North Korea. Both countries also have verbally stated their intentions of combatting against cyber crime.

 

For more information on this report, and to confirm the facts of this story for yourself, watch the press conference here: