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Lavrov says he never met with alleged CIA spy Smolenkov

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier confirmed that Smolenkov worked for the Russian presidential administration several years ago, but was fired

MOSCOW, September 10. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Tuesday he had never met former staff member of the Russian presidential administration Oleg Smolenkov, whom media reports refer to as a possible CIA agent.

"I have never seen him, I have never met him, and I have neither kept track of his career nor his movements," Lavrov said, stressing that he could only comment on the facts.

"You have mentioned my meeting with President Trump in May 2017 in the White house. Well, no one shared any state or even non-state secrets with anyone during that conversation," Russia’s top diplomat emphasized. "By the way, this was confirmed by US National Security Advisor McMaster, who was present at that meeting, as well as other people, who are somehow familiar with what was discussed then."

According to Lavrov, at the meeting with the US leader the sides discussed the need to mend bilateral relations and rectify that damage inflicted by the administration of former US President Barack Obama to bilateral cooperation, by actually "disrupting all meaningful mechanisms of cooperation between Moscow and Washington before the departure [of Barack Obama's administration] from the White House."

"We spoke with President Trump about the fact that this does not do any good to our bilateral ties since this affects business as well as cultural and humanitarian exchanges. This does not benefit international relations and efforts of the international community on solving numerous problems, a solution to which, as many have said and continue saying, largely depends on cooperation between Russia and the US," Lavrov pointed out.

During that conversation, the sides confirmed that Obama’s steps dealt a heavy blow to the existing mechanisms of cooperation in the fight against international terrorism, the foreign minister said. Russia and President Trump expressed readiness to "make every effort to restore these channels of cooperation, which are absolutely in demand in modern conditions."

On Monday, CNN reported that the United States had "successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government." For its part, the New York Times noted that the "longtime source landed an influential position that came with access to the highest level of the Kremlin."

Some Russian media outlets reported citing anonymous sources that the individual in question could be someone named Oleg Smolenkov, who supposedly worked for the Russian presidential administration and Russia’s diplomatic mission in the US. Some of them mentioned Smolenkov’s other places of employment.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday confirmed that Smolenkov worked for the Russian presidential administration several years ago, but was fired by internal order.