The Latest: Lavrov says US tried to recruit diplomats

AP News
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Posted: Jan 17, 2017 7:13 AM
The Latest: Lavrov says US tried to recruit diplomats

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on a news conference by Russia's foreign minister (all times local):

3:10 p.m.

The Russian foreign minister says U.S. officials have tried to recruit Russian diplomats posted to the United States.

Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that on one occasion in April the U.S. sought to recruit a deputy chief of mission in Washington, describing the attempt as "unprecedented."

In another case, Lavrov said that U.S. officials put $10,000 in cash and a note offering to cooperate in a Russian diplomat's car.

Lavrov also alleged that U.S. diplomats regularly attended Russian opposition rallies, some of them in disguise.

Sergey Lavrov said that his ministry had looked at the U.S. complaints of harassment of U.S. diplomats in Russia and found no confirmation of them.

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2:10 p.m.

Russia's foreign minister has denounced a dossier on President-elect Donald Trump compiled by a former British spy as a "rude provocation."

Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday contemptuously referred to the dossier's author as a "runaway swindler from MI6" without citing his name. The dossier was compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British spy who served in Moscow in the early 1990s.

The dossier claimed that Russia has evidence that Trump engaged in sexual activities while on a trip to Moscow and alleged that members of his inner circle met secretly with Russian officials and that Russia conducted hacking and disinformation campaigns to affect the U.S. election. Trump has rejected the allegations as "fake news" and "phony stuff."

Lavrov described the claims as part of "absurdities" and "fakes" aimed at hurting Trump.

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1:10 p.m.

Russia's foreign minister says that Moscow is ready to sit down for talks with the incoming U.S. administration.

Sergey Lavrov says that along with nuclear arsenals, the agenda for such negotiations should also include new hypersonic weapons, missile defense, weaponization of space and other issues.

Lavrov made the remarks while commenting on President-elect Donald Trump's statement that he might consider lifting sanctions against Russia if it's willing to make nuclear arms cuts.

Lavrov saw Trump's statement as an offer to engage in nuclear arms control talks and help lay the groundwork for them by reviewing the issue of sanctions. He argued that some commentators misinterpreted Trump's statement, saying that he didn't see it as an offer to cut arms in exchange for canceling the sanctions.

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11:55 a.m.

Russia's foreign minister says that Moscow is inviting representatives of the incoming U.S. administration to attend upcoming Syria talks in Kazakhstan.

Sergey Lavrov said at a news conference Tuesday that Russia is encouraged by President-elect Donald Trump's focus on combating terrorism.

He voiced hope that Russian and U.S. experts could start discussions on fighting terrorism in Syria, in Kazakhstan's capital when Syrian government and opposition representatives meet for talks on Monday.

He said "we hope that the new administration will be able to accept that proposal," adding that the talks in Astana will offer "the first opportunity to discuss a more efficient fight against terrorism in Syria."

Lavrov said that Russia expects that cooperation on settling the Syrian crisis will be more productive than it was with the Obama administration.