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President Donald Trump said Friday it's too early to talk about lifting sanctions on Russia after visiting British Prime Minister Theresa May told reporters at the White House that the punishment for Moscow's actions in Ukraine should remain.
"As far as the U.K. is concerned on sanctions for Russia in relations to their activities in the Ukraine, we have been very clear that we want to see the Minsk agreement fully implemented, we believe the sanctions should continue until we see the Minsk agreement fully implemented," May said following a meeting with Trump. "And we've been continuing to argue that inside the European Union."
The U.S. and many European nations have imposed sanctions in response to Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea.
The president did not answer directly whether he would remove the measures. However, he said he hopes to have a "fantastic relationship" with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"If we can have a great relationship with Russia and with China and with all countries, I'm all for that," Trump said. "I don't know the gentleman, I hope we have a fantastic relationship. That's possible, and it's also possible that we won't."
Trump will talk to Putin by phone on Saturday. When asked Friday if lifting sanctions would be on the table, Trump senior aide Kellyanne Conway said that "all of that is under consideration."
Trump's choice of Rex Tillerson as secretary of State has led to speculation that the administration will lift the sanctions. While he was CEO of Exxon Mobil, Tillerson developed close ties to Russia. Some bipartisan members of Congress have called for tougher sanctions on Russia due to the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Moscow tried to influence the 2016 election.
Trump on Saturday will also talk to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who played a key role in reaching the 2015 Minsk agreement on the Ukraine war and is a supporter of Russian sanctions.