US President Donald Trump has warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Russia should not interfere in the US 2020 elections, the White House said, while Moscow has insisted that it never did so in the 2016 elections, despite the US intelligence services’ conclusion to the contrary.
Trump welcomed Lavrov to a closed-door meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday to review the state of bilateral relations and the White House announced afterward in a communique the content of their discussion, Xinhua news agency reported.
“President Trump warned against any Russian attempts to interfere in the US elections and urged Russia to resolve the conflict with Ukraine,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement after the Oval Office meeting.
“Just had a very good meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and representatives of Russia. Discussed many items including Trade, Iran, North Korea, INF Treaty, Nuclear Arms Control, and Election Meddling,” Trump said on Twitter after the meeting as he flew to a campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
After the meeting, however, Lavrov told reporters that he and Trump had not discussed election interference, suggesting that only Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had brought up the issue during their separate meeting at the State Department prior to the Russian’s meeting with the president.
US intelligence agencies three years ago concluded that Russia interfered in the US 2016 elections to favor Trump, something that was corroborated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the extensive report he prepared and presented earlier this year after a lengthy investigation.
However, Trump has adopted contradictory stances regarding Russian interference and has cast doubt on whether his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, was behind any attempt to influence or interfere with the US election process.
Lavrov insisted on Tuesday during a press conference with Pompeo before meeting with Trump that “all speculation about our alleged interference in domestic processes in the US are baseless (and) there are no facts that would support that. We have not seen these facts. No one has given us this proof because it simply does not exist.”
Lavrov’s visit to Washington is his first since 2017 when he also met with Trump in the Oval Office.