The Latest: Tillerson says Russia willing to discuss Ukraine

The Latest on U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Philippines (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Russia is showing “some willingness” to start talking about a resolution to the crisis in Ukraine.

Tillerson made the comment after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. After the meeting, the Russian diplomat announced that the Trump administration was sending its new special representative for Ukraine negotiations to Moscow for talks.

Tillerson says the U.S. has been deliberate about coordinating with all the parties involved in the crisis. He says that’s to avoid the perception the U.S. is trying to cut a side deal that would undermine any group’s interests.

Tillerson says the U.S. has deep differences with Russia including on Ukraine, but that it’s not a good idea to “just cut everything off on one single issue.”

He says the U.S. and Russia still have important national security issues to discuss.


10:30 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. will respond by Sept. 1 to Russia’s move to force a major reduction in American diplomatic staff.

Tillerson is speaking to reporters during a visit to the Philippines. He says he communicated U.S. plans to respond by that deadline to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in their meeting in Manila on Sunday.

Tillerson says he told Lavrov that the U.S. still hasn’t decided how it will respond. He says he asked Lavrov “several clarifying questions” about the act of Russian retaliation in response to new sanctions passed by Congress.

Russia said recently it was forcing the U.S. to cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by 755 people. But there’s been confusion because the U.S. is believed to have far fewer than 755 American employees in Russia.


8:20 p.m.

Russia is anticipating difficulties in ensuring a cease-fire in the last of the four safe zones in Syria.

That’s what Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (sir-GAY’ lahv-RAWF’) has said in televised comments after his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Manila on Sunday.

Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed on a plan in May to establish four “de-escalation” zones in Syria, and they pressed the Syrian air force to halt flights over those areas.

Russia and Iran back Syrian President Bashar Assad. Turkey supports rebels fighting Syrian government forces.

Lavrov says he thinks “it will…

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