Tillerson to meet with Russian counterpart in Germany

Tillerson to meet with Russian counterpart in Germany
© Greg Nash

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in Germany during a G-20 summit, an official said Wednesday.

"A meeting is planned and being worked out," Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, said during a news conference, according to Reuters.

The first meeting between Tillerson and Lavrov comes amid growing criticism from United States lawmakers over the Trump administration’s relationship with Russia.

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President Trump has said “only ‘stupid’ people” don’t want a good relationship with Russia and signaled during his presidential campaign that he was open to warmer relations with Moscow.

Tillerson's meeting with Lavrov also follows White House national security adviser Michael Flynn's resignation in the wake of reports that he misled White House officials about a conversation with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. Flynn originally claimed that he and Kislyak did not discuss U.S. sanctions against Russia before Trump’s inauguration.

But a Washington Post report last week said Flynn and Kislyak did discuss sanctions.

Since Flynn’s resignation, Senate Democrats have called for an investigation into potential connections between Trump campaign staffers and Russian officials.

The intelligence community in a declassified report last month concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an influence campaign to help Trump win the White House.