Bolton meets with Russian ambassador at White House

Bolton meets with Russian ambassador at White House
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President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE's national security adviser John Bolton met with Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov at the White House on Thursday.

The two men met Thursday afternoon and discussed how to improve ties between the U.S. and Russia, according to the release from the White House. The meeting was Bolton's first with a top Russian official since being named as former national security adviser H.R. McMaster's replacement.

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According to the release, Bolton expressed his desire for a closer relationship with Russia's government but warned that any mending of ties would have to be preceded by alleviating "our concerns regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the reckless use of a chemical weapon in the United Kingdom, and the situations in Ukraine and Syria."

The meeting between Bolton and Antonov comes amid Trump's refusal to levy additional sanctions on Moscow over Russia's alleged involvement in the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy on British soil.

U.S. Ambassador the the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Haley: 'Threats of China on full display' in Hong Kong Juan Williams: Trump's trouble with women MORE said Sunday that new sanctions could be announced as early as Monday, but the White House made clear Monday that would not be the case.

On Wednesday, Trump responded to confusion over the mixed messages from Haley and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, explaining that new sanctions would be announced “as soon as they very much deserve it.”

“There has been nobody tougher on Russia than Donald Trump,” Trump added Wednesday during a press conference.

Tensions between the two nations were tested further over the weekend after the U.S. joined France and the U.K. in conducting missile strikes on suspected chemical weapons facilities in Syria, in response to an alleged chemical attack purportedly committed by Syrian forces.

Russia and Syria have denied involvement in the chlorine gas attack that struck a rebel-held stronghold last week, killing dozens.