WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would like to improve relations with Russia and said the countries should not escalate their diplomatic quarrel, a State Department spokesperson said Tuesday.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Tillerson would like to “take a pragmatic approach” to relations with Russia, and work together where mutual interest align while upholding U.S. values.
She had been asked during a regular news briefing about a new BuzzFeed report appearing to reveal diplomatic documents showing that Russia sought a reset in relations with the U.S. during the third month of the Donald Trump administration.
“This is what we want also, so I’m really happy to hear we’re all on the same page. Two world nuclear powers need to be able to work together on areas of mutual cooperation,” she said, while declining to comment on the contents of the report.
Asked about Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s comment that Russia was considering further cutting the size of the U.S. diplomatic staff in the country, Nauert declined speculate about the move. She, however, said that Tillerson would see the move as unnecessary.
“The secretary believes that no further escalatory action is necessary at this point and we look forward to trying to forge ahead,” she said.
Nauert disclosed that the State Department special representative for North Korea policy, Joseph Yun, visited Moscow Monday to meet with officials from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the U.N. voted on new sanctions on North Korea.
“Here is an area of mutual cooperation with Russia… It’s an example of our ongoing discussions with the international community to increase pressure on [North Korea],” she said.
She also reiterated that U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon recently met in Helsinki with his Russian counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.