The Kremlin feels cautious optimism about the prospects for an improvement in American-Russian relations after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, a Kremlin spokesman said on Thursday.
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"The conversation itself is extremely positive," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on a conference call with reporters, referring to Lavrov's meeting with Trump on Wednesday.
Peskov said the Kremlin viewed the prospects of a thaw "with cautious optimism."
"We have a lot of work ahead of us," he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at Wednesday's meeting that "I want to welcome Foreign Minister Lavrov to the State Department and express my appreciation for him making the trip to Washington so that we could continue our dialogue and our exchange of views that began in Moscow with the dialogue he hosted on a very broad range of topics."
Lavrov's visit came on the heels of Trump's dismissal of James Comey from his role as FBI director. Trump’s firing of Comey throws into question the future of a counterintelligence investigation into Trump's campaign’s possible connections to Russia. It immediately raised suspicions of an underhanded effort to stymie a probe that has shadowed the administration from the outset.
Asked by a reporter if Comey's dismissal would cast a shadow over his talks with Tillerson, Lavrov acknowledged the elephant in the room by replying in a sarcastic tone: "Was he fired? You're kidding. You're kidding."
Tillerson made no reference to Comey as he and Lavrov shook hands and posed for photographs.