In a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, President Donald Trump signaled that it was too early to talk about lifting sanctions on Russia.
Trump’s comments come after 24 hours of rumors that Trump might lift sanctions on Russia unilaterally as early as this weekend.
The Associated Press asked Trump whether he was close to “lifting some of the sanctions imposed on Russia over its Ukraine incursion, [and] what would you expect in return?”
“We’ll see what happens,” Trump answered. “As far as the sanctions, it’s very early to be talking about that, but we look to have a great relationship with all countries ideally,” he said. “That won’t necessarily happen, unfortunately, probably won’t happen with many countries.”
Trump continued: “If we can have a great relationship with Russia and with China, and with all countries I’m all for that. That would be a tremendous asset. No guarantees, but if we can, that would be a positive not a negative,” he added later.
Asked about British sanctions on Russia, May was more direct, saying sanctions would continue.
“As far as the UK is concerned on sanctions for Russia in relation to their activities in the Ukraine, we have been very clear that we want to see the Minsk agreement fully implemented,” she said. “We believe the sanctions should continue until we see that Minsk agreement fully implemented and we’ve been continuing to argue that inside the European Union.”
Russia came up again later in the press conference, in response to a question from the BBC.
“I will be representing the American people very, very strongly, very forcefully, and if we have a great relationship with Russia and others countries, and if we go after ISIS together, which has to be stopped, that’s an evil that has to be stopped, I will consider that a good thing, not a bad thing.”
Earlier on Friday, senior counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said lifting sanctions imposed by former President Obama on Russia would be “under consideration” ahead of a call between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.