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  World   Americas  13 May 2017  WH fumes after Moscow releases Don-Lavrov pics

WH fumes after Moscow releases Don-Lavrov pics

AFP
Published : May 13, 2017, 1:06 am IST
Updated : May 13, 2017, 1:28 am IST

Trump “should be meeting with the foreign minister,” said WH spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, lambasting critics.

US President Donald Trump with Russia’s Sergei Lavrov
 US President Donald Trump with Russia’s Sergei Lavrov

Washington: Donald Trump’s administration was left red-faced Thursday after the Moscow surprised it by releasing pictures of a closed-door meeting between the US president and Russia’s top diplomat.

The images, issued by the Russian state news agency TASS, and subsequently published by much of the global media, showed a grinning Trump shaking hands with Sergei Lavrov and the Russian ambassador in Washington, Sergei Kislyak, during an Oval Office meeting.

That Wednesday meeting was already being seen as a major diplomatic coup for the Kremlin, a red carpet welcome months after being hit with US sanctions for meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Veteran diplomats questioned why Trump agreed to host the diplomats -- a rare honour for non-heads of state, much less for those at the centre of major US political scandal.

US administrations often treat Oval Office meetings as a type of currency, dangling the prospect of a high-profile sit-down to gain leverage or concessions in negotiations.

But the emergence of photos compounded the perception that Russia had won a diplomatic victory and the White House was outmanoeuvred.“Congrats Kollegi (colleagues) at getting these photos! Huge coup,” said former US ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul.

Publicly, the White House put on a brave face. Trump “should be meeting with the foreign minister,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, lambasting critics.

“For them to try to attack him for doing his job, maybe they should spend a little more time doing their jobs and we wouldn’t have all the problems that we do.” Privately though White House officials seethed at what they described as a breach of trust.

Tags: donald trump, sergei lavrov, sergei kislyak