Tillerson calls on Russia to improve US relations

Tillerson calls on Russia to improve US relations
© Keren Carrion

Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions Leaked Trump transition vetting documents show numerous officials with 'red flags': Axios Bolton says Russia, China seeking to promote discord in Trump administration MORE on Saturday called on Russia to take steps to improve its relationship with the United States after President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE indicated he would sign a bill into law strengthening sanctions on Moscow.

"The near unanimous votes for the sanctions legislation in Congress represent the strong will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States," Tillerson said in a statement.

"We hope that there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues and these sanctions will no longer be necessary," he added.

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Tillerson also mentioned Iran and North Korea, which were included in the sanctions legislation, saying the Trump administration would work to make sure its "messages" to the countries were "clearly understood."

"We will work closely with our friends and Allies to ensure our messages to Russia, Iran, and North Korea are clearly understood," he said.

The statement comes a day after the White House said Trump would sign the bill tightening sanctions on Russia, despite language in the bill that prevents the White House from loosening sanctions in the future. 

The legislation passed with veto-proof majorities. The House passed their version of the bill on Tuesday, while the Senate voted 98-2 on Thursday to send the legislation to Trump's desk.

Russia's government has already retaliated against the United States, demanding the closure of U.S. property in Russia and staff reductions for U.S. diplomatic personnel.