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Lavrov Tells Tillerson, Russia Ready To Normalize Relations with U.S., Despite ‘Russophobic’ Forces

July 29, 2017 (EIRNS)—The Russian Foreign Ministry gave a strong response to the Congressional anti-Russian sanctions, calling them the work of "Russophobic" forces pushing the two countries into confrontation, but left the door open for improvement of relations. The Ministry released a statement yesterday on Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s July 28 telephone discussion with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson concerning Russia’s counter-measures, such as forcing the U.S. to reduce the number of its diplomats in Russia.

TASS quoted the Foreign Ministry statement:

"Sergey Lavrov stressed that the decision to equal the number of U.S. and Russian diplomatic missions and to close access to two U.S. Embassy’s facilities stems from a series of Washington’s hostile steps. Such actions included illegal sanctions against Russia, calumny against it, mass expulsion of diplomats and seizure of our diplomatic property.

"Lavrov reiterated that our country was still ready for the normalization of bilateral relations with the United States and cooperation on the key issues of the global agenda. However, it is possible only basing on equality, mutual respect and balance of interests."

The statement continued that Lavrov and Tillerson "agreed to maintain contacts on the whole scope of the Russian-American relations."

The Russian minister stressed that Russia

"has been doing its best to mend the relations and acted with discretion in response to the U.S.’ provocations. But the latest developments have demonstrated that the U.S.’ policy turnout out to be in the hands of Russophobic forces that are pushing Washington towards confrontation,"

the statement said, according to TASS.

"Our limited and absolutely adequate measures should not be seen as an ’eye for eye’ response but as a forced step fitting into the international practice and aiming to defend Russia’s legal interests in a hope that the U.S. side would finally think about pernicious consequences of its policy."

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov made similar statements, in an interview with Rossiya-1 TV. He referred his talk with U.S. Ambassador John Tefft, "with whom I had a hard but professional talk. I reassured him that there are no signs on the Russian part that our policy is ruinous," he said. "On the contrary, we want to restore justice and call on the Americans to show restraint.

"I don’t consider this bill frightening, I consider it ... defective, harmful for the United States itself and doomed to failure. It means that the goals set by its initiators will never be achieved. Relations with Russia will only worsen and the perspective of their normalization will go further on into the future,"

he said.

"Once again, we are warning the U.S. side, and now I am doing it publicly, against attempts to further unwind the spiral of confrontation, against attempts to hit our relations over and over again. Now, the choice and assessment of the consequences of what is going on depends completely on the Americans.

"I insist that in case of these or those actions we will have to take retaliation steps, countermeasures. They might be absolutely tit-for-tat but they might not be that way at all,"

he said.

Regarding the Obama administration’s seized Russian diplomatic property in the United States. Ryabkov said:

"Our recreation centers that are Russia’s property and that enjoy full diplomatic immunity have become a target of such barbaric invasion. They have become a toy in the hands of those who have only been seeking a pretext to further worsen the already poisoned atmosphere of relations with Russia."