Russia's Sergei Lavrov to meet US counterpart Rex Tillerson Thursday: Moscow

The first meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (left) and his US counterpart Rex Tillerson "has been planned and is being prepared", said a foreign ministry spokesman.
The first meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (left) and his US counterpart Rex Tillerson "has been planned and is being prepared", said a foreign ministry spokesman.PHOTOS: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov plans to meet his US counterpart Rex Tillerson for the first time Thursday (Feb 16) in Germany, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said Wednesday.

"The meeting with Secretary of State Mr Tillerson has been planned and is being prepared" on Feb 16, when both diplomats will be in Bonn for the G20 ministerial talks, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted by Russian agencies as saying.

Lavrov will also hold his first meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who was appointed last month.

The first meeting between US and Russian senior diplomats comes as Russian officials appear increasingly concerned at the shift in rhetoric coming from Washington which dampens hopes that US President Donald Trump will drop sanctions and initiate other policy changes towards Moscow.

It also follows the resignation of Trump's national security advisor Michael Flynn over his contacts with Russian officials.

Zakharova said Lavrov will "discuss bilateral relations, which were taken into a dead end by the previous administration".

"The plan is to discuss the main international crises which our countries have cooperated on and must cooperate," she said. "Of course, regional issues will be examined."

Trump's spokesman Sean Spicer on Tuesday said the new US president "has been incredibly tough on Russia" and "expects the Russian government to de-escalate violence in the Ukraine and return Crimea".