Russia’s top diplomat has said the timing of his recent White House meeting with President Donald Trump was a “coincidence.”
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, spoke about the meeting in an interview on state media, saying it was organized a month before his trip to Washington. Trump and Lavrov met on the same day Democrats in Congress unveiled articles of impeachment against the President.
“I believe that it was a coincidence that our meeting was held on the day when the House Committee launched the impeachment procedure,” Lavrov said in an interview that first aired on Russia’s Channel One on Sunday.
“…it is a tradition of Russian-US relations that when the chief diplomat visits the capital city of the partner he is received by the head of state. It is a long-standing tradition.”
Lavrov expressed hope for more constructive relations between Moscow and Washington. He also praised Trump’s style of foreign policy.
“I like the way President Trump talks about international affairs and bilateral relations,” he said.
“He avoids ambiguities and tries to speak his mind. It is not often that top-level politicians do this, but I think that it is a very constructive approach that allows the sides to see the potential, difficulties and prospects of relations, which is what we are concerned about.”
However, Lavrov underscored longstanding differences with the US on a number of matters, particularly Washington’s policy toward Iran.
“Iran cannot be treated the way Washington is trying to do it,” he said.
“Not only do Americans grossly violate the UN Charter by refusing to comply with the UN Security Council’s binding resolution but they also rather rudely address the demands to the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country with a one-thousand-year-old civilization, traditions, and an immense sense of dignity.”
CNN has reached out to the White House and the National Security Council for comment.