Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters Tuesday that President Donald Trump has instructed him to improve U.S./Russia relations regardless of ongoing political turmoil.
Tillerson, during a press conference in New Zealand following a trip to Australia, was asked whether he believes current allegations of Trump “collusion” with Russia could hurt the administration.
“I can’t really comment on any of that because I don’t have any direct knowledge,” he said, according to Reuters.
The top diplomat added: “The president’s been clear to me: do not let what’s happened over here in the political realm prevent you from the work that you need to do on this relationship and he’s been quite clear with me… that we might make progress. I’m really not involved in any of these other issues.”
Tillerson’s statements come just a week after Russian leader Vladimir Putin expressed a willingness to work with the Trump administration in an effort to normalize relations.
“Normalization of bilateral relations is in the interest of the two countries. And we will continue the appropriate dialogue with the new U.S. President Trump and the new Administration,” Putin said during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Putin, in recent months, has said he believes relations between the two countries are a Cold War lows.
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