US State Department confirms Tillerson's visit to Moscow in April

21 March, 2017, 09:22 | Author: Leticia Walters

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday he had not heard about a potential visit to Russia by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, news agency Interfax reported. Skipping the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit is sure to rankle nerves in Brussels, but so too will reports that Tillerson will then travel to Moscow to meet with the Russians as soon as April 12.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was due to have arrived in Washington on Monday for a three-day visit that was to include talks with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and to take part in the counter-Islamic State meetings.

"It feeds this narrative that somehow the Trump administration is playing footsie with Russian Federation", said the former US official on condition of anonymity. "You don't want to do your early business with the world's great autocrats".

Speaking in a March 18 interview with a journalist from the conservative-leaning USA website Independent Journal Review who was accompanying him on his tour, Tillerson said Japan was "our [the US's] most important ally in the region", while describing South Korea as an "important partner relative to stability of Northeast Asia".

"If that's the case, it's an absolute disgrace and I'll do whatever I can to stop the United States from going down this path".

Tillerson's trip to Moscow, right after he flies to Italy for a meeting of ministers from the Group of Seven countries, comes at a time when the Kremlin's alleged cyberattacks during the presidential campaign and meetings with several Trump campaign officials are being scrutinized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Congress.

Two sources told Reuters that Tillerson then expects to visit Moscow on April 12.

The former diplomat said it was vital to present a united front toward Moscow.

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