Russia and Japan far from being partners: Lavrov

Kremlin mocks notion that Trump could have worked for Russia

Mr Whelan holds citizenship from Ireland, the US, Britain, and Canada, and Mr Lavrov said Russian Federation would allow consular visits.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono held talks about the territorial dispute with Lavrov in Moscow on Monday and Shinzo Abe is to have discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin on January 22.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that Syria's regime must take control of the country's north, after calls from the USA to set up a Turkish-controlled "security zone" in the area.

Sergey Lavrov says that Paul Whelan's brother is in Moscow and has been briefed about prison conditions.

Lavrov said Trump's right to conduct foreign policy is "under attack from Congress and this doesn't make these attacks constitutional or less illegal".

The aide said Russia's relations with the USA were "at rock bottom" and "nothing has happened in the context of developing them".

Trump said this week he never worked for Russian Federation.

Mr Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, similarly derided the claims that Mr Trump might have worked for Russian interests.

Asked whether the Kremlin had influenced the transparency of Trump's talks with Putin, he expressed disgust that US journalists were even covering the issue.

Lavrov rejected the allegations that Russian authorities could have arrested Whelan in order to swap him for one of the Russians held in the USA, saying "we don't do such things".

"It's quite obvious that the situation is absurd", Lavrov said about the US investigation.

Mr Lavrov noted that earlier this week, the United States had ignored Moscow's proposal to inspect a Russian missile that Washington claimed had violated a nuclear arms treaty. S. negotiators stonewalled, repeating Washington's demand for Russian Federation to destroy the 9M729 missile it claims runs afoul of the pact.

Lavrov also praised the close cooperation and coordination between Moscow and Beijing in global affairs, including within BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the United Nations, as well as harmonizing the Eurasian Economic Union with the Belt and Road Initiative.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Andrea Thompson said in Tuesday's statement that "the meeting was disappointing as it is clear Russian Federation continues to be in material breach of the treaty".

Mr Lavrov insisted that Moscow was not taking any sides over Britain's exit from the EU.

Lavrov also rejected suggestions that Russia would consider swapping Paul Whelan, the American detained in Moscow at the end of December on charges of espionage, for Russians in custody in the U.S. He said Whelan had been caught "red-handed" receiving classified information.

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