Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov answers questions November 17 after his bilateral meeting with former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Lavrov on Monday said the Kremlin objects to U.S. President Donald Trump's statement that Iran is the No. 1 terrorist state. Pool photo by Mark Ralston/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Russia on Monday rejected an assertion Monday by U.S. President Donald Trump, who called Iran the world's foremost terrorist state.
"We do not agree with the definition," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "Russia enjoys warm relations with Iran, we do cooperate on a range of issues, and we do appreciate our economic ties which, we hope, will go further. It's no secret for anyone that Moscow and Washington hold diametrically opposed views on many international and regional policy issues. Meanwhile, it can't be and should not be an obstacle when it comes to forging normal communication and pragmatic mutually beneficial relations between Russia and the U.S."
Peskov's comments came after Trump said in a Fox News interview Sunday that Iran has "total disregard for our country, they're the No. 1 terrorist state, they're sending money all over the place and weapons."
Trump's remarks came days after the White House imposed new sanctions on Iran for test-firing a ballistic missile. Defense Secretary James Mattis called Iran the world's "biggest state sponsor of terrorism."
Russia defended Iran against the U.S. interpretation of the missile firing as a violation the Iran nuclear deal.
The exchange is the first major public disagreement between the United States and Russia in the Trump administration. The U.S. position can be interpreted as an attempt to drive a wedge between Russia and Iran, The Wall Street Journal reported.
While Russia and the United States both seek the defeat of the Islamic State, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that Iran should also be a member of a proposed coalition against the Islamic State -- also identified as Daesh and by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.
"All those who see Islamic State as an existential threat should start to act in a coordinated manner, and I'm sure that if we look objectively at potential members of this coalition, Iran should, of course, be part of our joint efforts. Iran has never been complicit in any links to IS or al-Nusra Front whatsoever," Lavrov said, using an older name for the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham militant group.
"Moreover, Iran contributes to combatting IS. We have long advocated the idea of creating a unified anti-terrorist front. I am convinced that Iran must be part of our common effort if we evaluate potential contributors to such an alliance objectively."