Flags of U.S. and Russia
Flags of U.S. and Russia iStock

Russia’s newly installed ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, said on Friday that he had a warm and constructive meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, Reuters reported, citing Russian news agencies.

“I was received by President Trump, I presented my credentials. For my part I said that we are looking forward to an improvement in the relations between our two countries,” the Tass news agency quoted Antonov as saying.

“President Trump received me in a warm and friendly way ... The atmosphere was very genial, constructive and welcoming. At least, that was my personal feeling,” Russia’s RIA news agency quoted him as saying.

“We, together with his colleagues, his staff, agreed to continue our cooperation,” he added.

“I said that I look forward to working with the U.S government in the area of Russian-American mutual interests. And I said that, as far as Russia is concerned, we are ready to do that, we’re ready to take concrete steps,” said Antonov.

Antonov took over as Russian ambassador from Sergei Kislyak, whose contacts with members of Trump’s campaign team made him a central figure in the investigation into Russian influence on last year’s U.S. presidential election.

Russia recalled Kislyak in June, though it did not provide a reason for the move at the time.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner have come under scrutiny in recent months over undisclosed meetings or contacts they each had with Kislyak.

Reports in the media suggested that Sessions' meeting with Kislyak might have occurred at a Russia-friendly foreign policy speech given by then-candidate Trump at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington in 2016.

Sessions, who recused himself from the Justice Department’s investigations into Russia’s meddling in the presidential race, has denied reports of an unreported meeting with Kislyak.

Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation in February, after it was revealed that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Kislyak.

A special counsel and congressional panels are investigating allegations of Russian meddling in the election.

The meeting between Antonov and Trump comes amid continued tensions between Washington and Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently ordered a reduction in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russia. The move came in response to Trump signing a bill imposing sanctions on Moscow over its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria.

Last week, the Trump administration countered by ordering Russia to shutter a consulate in San Francisco, as well as annexes in Washington and New York.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

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