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Tillerson: President Trump wants reengagement with Russia

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by Joseph Earnest June 6, 2017


Newscast Media WELLINGTON, New ZealandSecretary of State Rex Tillerson says President Donald Trump told him to "begin a reengagement process" aimed at rebuilding relations with Moscow and not to let the turmoil in Washington over possible Russian ties to Trump's inner circle get in the way.

Tillerson made the comments in New Zealand on June 6, amid probes by the FBI and Congress into Russia's alleged meddling in the U.S. election last year and any signs of collusion by Trump's campaign and transition team.

Trump "has been very clear with me that Russia is an important global player, and today our relationships with Russia are at a very low point and they've been deteriorating," Tillerson said.

"So the president asked me to begin a reengagement process with Russia to see if we can first stabilize that relationship, so it does not deteriorate further, and then can we identify areas of mutual interest where perhaps we can begin to rebuild some level of trust and some level of confidence that there are areas where we can work together," he said. "And that's the process that's under way today.

"The president has been clear to me: 'Do not let what's happening over here in the political realm prevent you from the work you need to do in this relationship'," Tillerson said.

He added that Trump had told him "to proceed at whatever pace and in whatever areas we might make progress."

Tillerson’s comments also came a day after a media outlet published a top-secret document from the U.S. National Security Agency that described repeated efforts by hackers linked to the Russian state to break into U.S. voting systems before the November 8 vote.

The Intercept said the classified document, published online late on June 5, depicts a hacking operation tied closely to Russia's military intelligence agency, known by the acronym GRU, that targeted private U.S. companies providing voter-registration services and equipment to local governments around the country.

The document said that the operation potentially threatened the integrity of the U.S. voting system by trying to trick more than 100 local election officials into opening malicious spyware, and that it went on for months -- ending just days before the election. It did not say whether the operation affected the outcome of the presidential vote.

The Intercept, which focuses on national security issues, said the White House NSA document was dated May 5 and is the most up-to-date and detailed discussion of Russian influence efforts as yet disclosed to the public or press.

After the document was published, the U.S. Justice Department announced it had arrested Reality Leigh Winner, an employee of a national security contractor, for leaking top-secret information dated "on or about May 5" to "an online news outlet."

It said Winner, 25, worked at a facility in the state of Georgia and was arrested on June 3. Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, denied that Russian military intelligence hackers tried to infiltrate U.S. voting systems. Add Comments>> 


Source: Daily Star













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