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United States to maintain Russian Federation sanctions until it withdraws from Ukraine, Tillerson says
08 December 2017, 07:51 | Erica Roy
Tillerson: US, Russia could normalize ties but for Ukraine
North Korea is open to coming to the table for direct talks with the United States over its nuclear ambitions, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, told his American counterpart Rex Tillerson on Thursday.
The United States would "badly" like to lift sanctions against Russian Federation but will not do so until Moscow has pulled its forces out of eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday, calling that the main obstacle to normal ties.
Asked later what commitments he had received at the meeting, Tillerson said: "I'm not going to tell you specifically what we get". "It stands as the single most hard obstacle to us renormalising the relationship with Russian Federation, which we badly would like to do".
Speaking a day ahead of planned talks with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Tillerson said he hoped to convince Moscow to allow a blue helmet force with a robust mandate.
"We prioritise ending the violence, that's our first priority, and to seek to do that we need to put a peacekeeping force in place", Tillerson said.
"Russia is arming, leading, training and fighting alongside anti-government forces".
Economic sanctions were placed on Russian Federation by then-US President Barack Obama in 2014 following the country's military action in Crimea and Ukraine. "Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russian Federation returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine", he said.
"The building of NATO's potential on the eastern flank, the course toward the unconditional expansion of the alliance, the deployment of US missile defenses in Europe, significantly undermines the principles of indivisibility and security", Lavrov said.
Tillerson made no mention on Thursday of Russia's efforts to meddle in the United States' 2016 presidential election, though he hinted at such activities a day earlier in Brussels, saying that Moscow's efforts to "undermine Western institutions" remained an obstacle to warmer ties with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. He called for confidence-building measures to ensure cybersecurity, "rather than shaking the air with unsubstantiated allegations, without a single fact".
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