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US-Russia military collaboration ruled out for now, says Mattis

US-Russia military collaboration ruled out for now, says Mattis


Reuters
BRUSSELS
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump's defence secretary on Thursday said he did not see possible military collaboration with Russia now, in a blow to Moscow's hopes to mend ties with Washington after Trump's election.
The remarks are perhaps the strongest indication yet from the Trump administration that prospects for any significant cooperation between the US and Russian militaries against Islamic State in Syria is unlikely anytime soon.
They came despite repeated suggestions by Trump during his election campaign of the possibility of joint action against Islamic State militants.
"We are not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level. But our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground," Jim Mattis told reporters after talks at NATO headquarters in Brussels, also mentioning US concerns about Russian interference in democratic elections.
Just hours before Mattis spoke, Russian President Vladimir Putin said it was in the interests of both nations to restore communications between their intelligence agencies.
"It's absolutely clear that in the area of counter-terrorism all relevant governments and international groups should work together," he told Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).
US intelligence agencies, however, are among the most powerful voice of caution in Washington on Russia, concluding that Moscow hacked and leaked Democratic Party emails during the presidential campaign as part of efforts to tilt the vote in the Nov 8 election in Trump's favour.
Monday's resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was seen in Moscow as a leading advocate of warmer ties with Russia, has underscored for the Kremlin the difficulties of reaching a settlement.
Flynn resigned after disclosures he had discussed US sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump took office, and that he later misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.
Asked whether he believed that Russia interfered in US presidential elections, Mattis said:"Right now, there's very little doubt that they have either interfered or they have attempted to interfere in a number of elections in the democracies."

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