President Donald Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at the White House on Wednesday.
The meeting swiftly resulted in a few media pratfalls, since mainstream reporters are currently undergoing throes of hysteria over Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.
When NBC’s Andrea Mitchell asked Lavrov if Comey’s dismissal would “cast a shadow over the talks,” he sarcastically replied, “Was he fired? You are kidding. You are kidding.”
Lavrov further dismissed claims that Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. election as “fabrications.”
There was also a false report that American reporters were kept out of the Trump-Lavrov meeting, while Russian reporters were allowed to attend, leading to grumbles that the Trump administration was suppressing the freedom of the press.
In truth, official photographers from both the American and Russian governments took pictures of the meeting; since the Russian government directly controls its media, pictures taken by the Russian photographers were quickly published by the TASS news agency. The Russians essentially live-Tweeted from the meeting.
Among those photos were pictures of President Trump shaking hands with Ambassador Kislyak, which the U.S. media found provocative because Kislyak was the other party on the telephone calls that led to the resignation of Trump’s first National Security Adviser, Mike Flynn.
As for the meeting itself, which also involved Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a major topic on the agenda was Russia’s proposal for “safe zones” in Syria. According to the State Department, the meeting also addressed the situation in Ukraine.
“I would say that our dialogue as of now is free from ideology that was very typical for Obama’s administration,” Lavrov said after the meeting.
“Both Mr. Trump and the secretary of state of his administration, as I realized today once again, are businesslike people and they want to reach agreements,” he continued. “The goal of both President Trump and President Putin is to have concrete results which will be tangible and which will allow us to alleviate problems, including on the international agenda.”
President Trump said it was a “very, very good meeting,” particularly with respect to the crisis in Syria.
He said Russia and the U.S. both want to end “the horrible, horrible killing in Syria as soon as possible, and everybody is working toward that end.”
“I think that we’re going to do very well with respect to Syria. I think things are happening that are really, really positive. We’re going to stop the killing and the death,” Trump declared. Possibly wishing to show Lavrov who was the true grand master at trolling left-leaning American reporters, he had Henry Kissinger sitting next to him when he said it.
The White House said President Trump underscored “the need for Russia to rein in the Assad regime, Iran, and Iranian proxies,” and to fully implement the Minsk agreements in Ukraine.
The Minsk protocols are a detailed roadmap for ending the conflict between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists which Moscow has been interfering in. Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of violating the Minsk agreement in various ways, while outside observers criticize the protocols for doing very little to end the Ukrainian conflict. The United Nations International Court of Justice recently denied a Ukrainian request to intervene and cut off Russian supplies to the separatists.
The U.S. government has leveled sanctions at Russia over its actions in Ukraine. The Trump administration has said these sanctions will remain in effect until Russia reverses its actions and restores all Ukrainian territory, including Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.