Russia's Top Diplomat Meets With Trump at White House

"I never thought I'd have to answer such questions, particularly in the United States given your highly developed democratic system", Lavrov said at a news conference at the Russian embassy, according to a simultaneous translation of his remarks.

Lavrov's meeting with the president was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET, and it was declared closed to the press. The meeting hadn't been listed on the president's official schedule. "We're right now talking about Russian Federation and various other matters".

The president also said the issue had not affected his meeting with Lavrov.

Lavrov, who last set foot in Washington in August 2013, would be the highest ranking Russian official to meet with Trump since he took office.

"He wasn't doing a good job".

Lavrov was in a joking mood when he spoke to reporters beside Tillerson Wednesday morning at the State Department.

"President Trump emphasized the need to work together to end the conflict in Syria, in particular, underscoring the need for Russian Federation to rein in the Assad regime, Iran, and Iranian proxies", the White House said in the statement.

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". Instead, they apparently focused on issues like ISIS and the ongoing war in Syria. He met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the White House early Wednesday, ahead of his visit to the Oval Office.

When reached for comment, a White House official told Politico that "Our official photographer and their official photographer were present, that's it".

When Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked how the firing might affect U.S. -Russia relations, Peskov replied, "We hope that it will not affect them at all".

Additionally, the State Department said "the United States and Russian Federation agreed to continue discussions to resolve other issues of bilateral concern, including strategic stability".

But it comes just a day after the president stunned Washington by firing James Comey as director of the FBI amid an investigation into whether Trump campaign aides colluded with Russian Federation to sway the November elections. The top US military commander in the country, Gen. John Nicholson, has suggested Russian Federation might be providing the Taliban with arms and has said that Russian Federation is lending legitimacy to the insurgency.

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