President Donald Trump met with two powerful Russian officials at the White House only one day after his controversial firing of FBI Director James Comey.
A US official and a person knowledgeable of the plans are describing what would be the highest level, face-to-face contact with Russian Federation of Trump's presidency.
A day after Trump fired Comey, a slew of details began to emerge as journalists and politicians filled in the gaps of what was an abrupt - and rare - removal of an Federal Bureau of Investigation director.
But the meeting will be impossible to separate from the Trump administration's unfolding political drama amid investigations into possible election-year collusion between Trump campaign associates and the Kremlin.
Earlier on Wednesday, journalists gathered at the White House ahead of the Lavrov-Tillerson meeting bombarded the two with questions as they posed for photos.
Mr Trump's decision on the eve of the meeting to fire the FBI director overseeing a Russia-related investigation injected further intrigue into Mr Lavrov's first visit to Washington since 2013.
"You are kidding. You are kidding", replied Lavrov.
Donald Trump will meet Vladimir Putin's senior diplomat at the White House on Wednesday in a signal that U.S. relations with Russian Federation have improved.
A White House statement after the meeting omitted any mention of Kislyak's presence, instead focusing on Trump's conversation with Lavrov, which the President described as "very, very good".
Later at a news conference, Lavrov told reporters that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to meet on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in July.
Update, May 10, 2017, 11:42 a.m. ET: This piece was updated to include comments given by Trump and Lavrov. As NPR's Domenico Montanaro reports, the firing of Comey with more than six years left on his term in office has prompted a flurry of questions about the president's motives - and about what's next.
Since the end of Obama's presidency in January, the United States has gradually withdrawn from the diplomatic process, leaving Russian Federation to take the lead.
"He wasn't doing a good job".
But the veteran Russian diplomat said the two sides were seeking to "remove all the barriers" in their thorny relationship, and praised his meetings on Syria as "constructive".
The top diplomat added Russian diplomatic property issue was discussed in Washington.
Since he fired Comey, Trump has faced comparisons to Kissinger's boss, whose dismissal of a special prosecutor in 1973 was a precursor to the Watergate scandal.
Tuesday's firing intensified Democratic calls for an independent investigation into Russian interference in the election. The zones would not cover areas where the USA -led coalition is fighting the Islamic State group, but enforcement and other questions remain unanswered.