Trump to host Lavrov at White House on Wednesday

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WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump will host Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov for talks at the White House on Wednesday, his highest-level encounter with a Russian official since taking office.

The two men will meet in the Oval Office at 10:30 am (1430 GMT), according to the White House.

The Russian foreign minister, making his first trip to Washington in four years, will also meet his counterpart Rex Tillerson as he seeks US support for Moscow’s plan to establish safe zones in Syria.

The United States was not part of the deal signed by Syrian government backers Russia and Iran, and rebel supporter Turkey, last Thursday in the Kazakh capital Astana.

Washington has given the plan an extremely cautious welcome, citing concerns about Iran’s role as a guarantor.

The high-level meetings come a day after Trump’s firing of FBI chief James Comey threw allegations of Russian meddling in the US election dramatically back into focus.

The FBI has concluded that President Vladimir Putin approved a wide-ranging campaign to tilt last year’s vote in Trump’s favor, and Comey was heading a wide-ranging investigation into whether the Republican’s aides colluded with the Russian effort.-AFP

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