ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - Russia is open to the release of key communications it says would exonerate it of meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday.
Speaking during a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Lavrov said the Trump administration has declined to agree to the release of the documents that are part of a diplomatic channel the countries used from October 2016 until November 2017.
"We used the channels that existed back then between Moscow and Washington,” Lavrov said in remarks translated from Russian, adding that their publication "would clear many matters up," including what he called the "wave of suspicions that has overcome Washington” and hindered bilateral cooperation.
U.S. intelligence agencies determined Russia was behind a sweeping disinformation campaign to influence the 2016 elections in favor of U.S. President Donald Trump, but Moscow has staunchly denied the allegations as the Trump administration has imposed sanctions and indicted Russian companies and individuals in retaliation.
Pompeo continued to back the assessment of culpability saying "we don't think there's any mistake about what really transpired there," and rejected the need for the publication of the communications.
"We'll publish all the documents we think appropriate. We think we've shared plenty of facts to show what happened in the 2016 election with our Russian counterparts," he said.
Pompeo continued to warn Russia against further interference in next year's presidential election, saying he made clear during their bilateral meeting Washington's "expectations of Russia."
"Should Russia or any foreign actor take steps to undermine our democratic processes we will take action in response," he said.
The top diplomats also addressed a range of issues, including a gamut of foreign policy issues they are on opposite sides of, and a nuclear nonproliferation treaty set to expire in 2020.
The U.S. wants China to be included as part of an extension of the New START Treaty, while Russia wants it extended as is.
Beijing has stated its lack of interest in joining the arms control pact.