Feb. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met for the first time Thursday in Germany, where they discussed the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.
Tillerson and Lavrov met in Bonn, Germany, during a meeting of foreign ministers ahead of the 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg. After the meeting, Tillerson told reporters he urged Russia to abide by previous agreements aimed at resolving the conflict in Ukraine.
"As we search for new common ground we expect Russia to honor its commitment to the Minsk agreements and work to deescalate violence in Ukraine," Tillerson said.
Tillerson said the United States will work with Russia on common interests but would confront Russia on opposing issues.
"The U.S. will consider working with Russia when we can find areas of practical cooperation that will benefit the American people," Tillerson said, adding that "where we do not see eye to eye the U.S will stand up for the interests and values of America and her allies."
Lavrov said the pair agreed to cooperate in their shared fight against terrorism in Syria and in other Middle Eastern countries where "terrorism has put down roots."
Bloomberg reported there was a moment of awkwardness during their first encounter. Usually, diplomats shake hands, exchange platitudes in front of cameras and take some questions before retiring for a private chat.
Lavrov said an opening statement and took a question. He also said Russia does "not interfere in the domestic matters of other countries," referring to Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
As Tillerson began to speak, journalists were told to exit the room. Lavrov asked why U.S. aides pushed out Russian and U.S. reporters without allowing them to listen the remaining opening remarks.
"Why did you shush them out?" Lavrov asked as U.S. aides removed reporters.