US President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned Moscow against meddling in next year's election during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the White House said, according to AFP.
Lavrov, however, denied the issue came up during a Washington meeting that drew controversy for occurring at all.
The meeting between Trump and Lavrov took place on the very day that House Democrats unveiled impeachment charges against Trump related to election interference.
The White House in a statement following the meeting said that Trump "warned against any Russian attempts to interfere in United States elections and urged Russia to resolve the conflict with Ukraine."
Speaking to reporters moments afterward, however, Lavrov said he had not seen the White House account but said, "We haven't even actually discussed elections."
US intelligence found that Russia, among other steps, manipulated social media to sway the 2016 election in Trump's favor.
Russia has denied any interference in the 2016 election. Trump has acknowledged intelligence information indicating that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, though at times he has also denounced what he calls the "Russia hoax" and has pressed an alternative theory that rival Ukraine in fact interfered in the election.
Lavrov, holding a news conference earlier with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, seized on the idea of a Ukrainian plot, saying it showed "the absurdity of the accusations against us."
Pompeo stood firm that "our Russian counterparts" interfered in 2016 and issued his own warning.
"The Trump administration will always work to protect the integrity of our elections, period," Pompeo said, according to AFP.
"Should Russia or any foreign actor take steps to undermine our democratic processes, we will take action in response," he added.
Trump tweeted on Tuesday about his meeting with Lavrov and described it as “a very good meeting”.
“Just had a very good meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and representatives of Russia. Discussed many items including Trade, Iran, North Korea, INF Treaty, Nuclear Arms Control, and Election Meddling. Look forward to continuing our dialogue in the near future!” he wrote.