Trump vague on lifting Russian sanctions, emphasizes cooperation fighting ISIS

In his first meeting with a foreign leader since being sworn-in as president, Donald Trump welcomed British Prime Minister Theresa May to the Washington Friday and told reporters it was “too early” to consider lifting sanctions against Russia.

Following a private meeting with May, discussions President Trump described as “productive,” the two world leaders held a joint press conference at the White House.

Asked if the Obama-era embargo imposed upon Moscow is likely to be lifted in the immediate future, Trump responded:

“As far as the sanctions, very early to be talking about that.”

Trump immediately expressed his hope the United States would soon enjoy a fruitful relationship with Russia and other nations.

Moments after, responding to a question over campaign stances, Trump belabored the worth and significance of improving ties with the Kremlin and other foreign nations:

“As far as, again, Putin and Russia, I don’t say good, bad or indifferent. I don’t know the gentleman. I hope we have a fantastic relationship. That’s possible and it’s also possible that we won’t. We will see what happens.”

Trump went on to say that the U.S. and Russia can cooperate to “go after ISIS together”, if relations are improved under his leadership.

At odds with the president are members of Congress, many of whom favor keeping sanctions against Moscow firmly in place.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have all warned Mr. Trump against lifting sanctions imposed on Russia.

Since his inauguration, speculation has persisted Trump would illustrate a warming to Russia through an easing of restrictions against Moscow over its support for separatists in Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Interviewed by Politico, Speaker Ryan said sanctions against the Kremlin were put into place far too late by Mr. Obama, but should remain; similarly, Sen. McConnell said Russia is undeserving of sanction relief.

Akin to Ryan and McConnell, John McCain stated it would be “naive and dangerous” to remove sanctions.

Mr. Trump is expected to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone on Saturday.

 

[Reuters] [The Guardian] [Sputnik] [The Economist] [Photo courtesy Reuters via RT America]