- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Emerging from a meeting with Russia’s foreign minister at the White House, President Trump said Wednesday that the U.S. and Russia are making progress to “stop the killing and the death” in Syria’s civil war.

Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he had “a very, very good meeting” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The session also included Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, whose contacts with former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn during the transition led to Mr. Flynn’s firing in February.

The president said Russia and the U.S. want to end “the killing — the horrible, horrible killing in Syria as soon as possible and everybody is working toward that end.”

“We’re going to stop the killing and the death,” Mr. Trump said.

The White House said Mr. Trump also emphasized in the meeting his desire “to build a better relationship” with Russia, amid tensions over allegations that Moscow interfered in the U.S. presidential election and over Russia’s military involvement in Syria.

“President Trump emphasized the need to work together to end the conflict in Syria, in particular, underscoring the need for Russia to rein in the Assad regime, Iran, and Iranian proxies,” the White House said.

The Russian military has been supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the six-year civil war, which included a chemical weapons attack this spring against civilian opponents of the regime by Syrian forces. Mr. Trump responded with a missile attack against a Syrian military base.

As he spoke with reporters, Mr. Trump had former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at his side.

“We’re talking about Syria and I think that we’re going to do very well with respect to Syria and things are happening that are really, really, really positive,” Mr. Trump said.

Speaking later at the Russian embassy in Washington, Mr. Lavrov said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mr. Trump “are willing to attain concrete results that would help in removing problems from the international” arena.

He said Mr. Trump “clearly stated his interest to build businesslike … relations with Russia.”

In an apparent reference to allegations that Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election, Mr. Lavrov said, “We agreed to continue in this channel to address the irritants that were artificially introduced into our relations.”

“It was a businesslike, fruitful approach,” he said of the meetings with Mr. Trump and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson. “We won’t be able to address all the problems overnight. It is obvious that there is a desire to move in the direction of a settlement of these problems.”

The White House said Mr. Trump also raised the issue of Ukraine with the Russians, whose proxies have seized portions of the country and are battling Ukrainian forces. Mr. Trump “expressed his administration’s commitment to remain engaged in resolving the conflict and stressed Russia’s responsibility to fully implement the Minsk agreements,” which call for a negotiated end to the hostilities and the withdrawal of Russian-backed forces.

Mr. Trump “also raised the possibility of broader cooperation on resolving conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere,” the White House said.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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