U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that Washington will respond by Sept. 1 to Russia’s move to force a major reduction in American diplomatic staff.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged Monday that the United States and Russia “have our differences” but said that Washington and Moscow should find ways of working together to ease tensions and that completely severing ties over Russia’s suspected meddling in the U.S. presidential election would not serve any purpose.
“I don’t think it is useful to just cut everything off on one single issue,” Tillerson said in Manila following his first meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, since the U.S. imposed the economic sanctions on Russia for its alleged interference in last year’s election. President Trump signed the bill into law last week.
“These are two very large countries and we should find places that we can work together, let’s try to work together. Places we have our differences, we’re going to have to continue to find a way to address those,” Tillerson said in the Philippines, where he met with Lavrov on Sunday on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit, a gathering for Southeast Asian nations to discuss economic, political and cultural issues.
“(I’m) trying to help them understand just how serious this incident had been and how seriously it had damaged the relationship between the U.S. and the American people and the Russian people — that this had created serious mistrust between our two countries,” Tillerson said of his conversation with Lavrov about the alleged election meddling. Russia has consistently denied it intervened in the vote.
In retaliation for the sanctions that target Russia’s energy and financial sectors, and also prevent Trump from rolling back sanctions imposed by President Obama’s administration, Russia intends to expel hundreds of U.S. diplomats. Tillerson said Monday the U.S. is still considering how to respond, but would do so by Sept 1.
Russia said it would force the U.S. to cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by 755 people. However, the U.S. is believed to have far fewer than 755 American employees in Russia, which has led to confusion. Russia also shuttered a recreational retreat on the outskirts of Moscow used…