US Secretary of State cites importance of tie-up with ASEAN

Philippines to host international summit with focus on security

While Russia lashes out against the United States, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has adopted a subdued tone on bilateral relations, saying on Monday that Washington wouldn't sever ties with Moscow after the mass expulsion of USA diplomatic staff, and stressing that the two countries need to find ways to work together.

Lavrov also said that Tillerson agreed to resume talks between US Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon and Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

"We would be interested to see what impression the USA special envoy has on the current state of affairs", Lavrov said.

The meeting was the first since President Donald Trump signed into law the sanctions that Russian Federation assessed as a full-scale trade war.

Numerous congressional probes are underway, while Special Counsel Robert Mueller has opened a grand jury investigation into whether Trump campaign aides illegally colluded with Russian interests on Trump's behalf in the election and whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief James Comey, who was leading the agency's Russia probe before Mueller took over.

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Hours earlier, Lavrov said he believed his US counterpart was ready to continue dialogue with Russian Federation on complex issues despite the bilateral tensions and the imposition of new USA sanctions. "I think there's no alternative to that", Lavrov said Sunday.

Tillerson in his comments to reporters said Russian Federation is showing "some willingness" to start discussing a resolution to the Ukraine crisis.

Jennings also said that the USA embassy in Manila stated on Friday that the U.S. would push Southeast Asian countries to "downgrade diplomatic engagements and exchanges" with North Korea before the Asean Regional Forum which Tillerson would also be attending in Manila next week.

"He was primarily interested.in details of those decisions that we grudgingly made in response to the law on anti-Russian sanctions", Lavrov said.

"We hope higher imports from the USA will help ease pressure on this issue. and the trend should continue", Mr Pimchanok Vonkhorporn, head of the commerce ministry's trade policy and strategy office, told Reuters on Monday.

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However, chief economist of the Eurasian Development Bank Yaroslav Lissovolik pointed out that coordinated efforts by energy resources' exporters may help them trade raw materials using national currencies and not just United States dollars.

The Trump administration has been seeking closer ties to Russian Federation, especially on fighting ISIS and pressuring North Korea.

Still, the Kremlin and the White House will try to move past the hurdles to work together on Syria and Ukraine.

Lavrov's upbeat assessment came amid what the USA has called a diplomatic low point unseen since the end of the Cold War. "At the same time, we are ready to normalize our dialogue if Washington pulls back from confrontation", the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

"However, North Korean representatives reacted in the same manner to all previously passed resolutions of the UN Security Council". But Tillerson argued there's no contradiction presented by the USA decision to help his country fight the militants, whose insurgency in the Philippines has stoked global fears about the Islamic State group exporting violence into Southeast Asia and beyond.

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