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Trump: No Change To Russia Sanctions Until Progress in Ukraine, Syria

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President Donald Trump said Sunday that he did not discuss the issue of U.S. sanctions on Moscow during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit.

Current sanctions won’t be lifted, he said, until problems in Syria and Ukraine are “solved.

Trump’s remarks on sanctions contradicted those of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who told reporters Friday that Trump informed Putin that U.S. lawmakers were readying new sanctions on Russia, according to the Washington Post.

The Obama administration placed sanctions on Russia for its military intervention in Ukraine and for meddling in the 2016 presidential election. It also seized two Russian diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland that U.S intelligence officials said were being used for espionage activity.

The Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill in June that would maintain and expand some sanctions against Russia and require Congressional review before the Trump administration lifted or suspended any punitive measures currently in place. The proposal is presently held up in the House over procedural issues.

In a series of tweets Sunday morning, Trump called for U.S. to begin “working constructively” with Russia on a range of issues including the Syria crisis and cyber security.
As an example, the president touted a cease fire agreement brokered by the U.S., Russia and Jordan to calm hostilities in southwest Syria. The deal went into effect Sunday, and the administration hopes it will lead to further cooperation between the U.S. and Russia in other parts of the country.

In advance of the G20 summit, administration critics worried that Trump would not bring up Moscow’s cyber attacks against the Democratic National Committee and the email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager. Trump confirmed Sunday that he did raise the issue with Putin but was prepared to accept the Russian president’s denial of responsibility for the hacks.

Trump also said that he and Putin agreed to form an “impenetrable cyber security unit” to combat election hacking. The proposal drew a swift rebuke from Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who likened it to partnering with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on a “chemical weapons unit.”

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