US-Russia relations at an “all time low point”: Tillerson

(FILES) This file photo taken on June 2, 2015 shows Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson addressing the World Gas Conference in Paris. President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday tapped ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson, an oilman with deep ties to Russia, as his secretary of state. Tillerson's nomination comes just days after a secret CIA report accused Russia of interfering with the US election in favor of Trump, in a development which could complicate his confirmation. / AFP PHOTO / ERIC PIERMONT

Washington: The US-Russia relationship is at its lowest point since the end of the Cold War, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said, asserting that President Donald Trump is committed to raise the current level of trust between the two countries.

“The President I think has made it clear that he feels it’s important that we re-engage with Russia.

“The relationship with Russia, as he has described and I have described as well, is I think at an all time low point since the end of the Cold War, with a very low level of trust,” Tillerson said in an interview to “Meet The Press” talk show of NBC News.

“I think the world and it’s in the interests of the American people, it’s in the interest of Russia and the rest of the world that we do something to see if we can improve the relationship between the two greatest nuclear powers in the world,” he said.

“So, the President, I think, has committed to at least make an effort in that regard and he has certainly asked me to make an important effort as well,” Tillerson said, noting that relationship with Russia comes up in his conversation with leaders of Europe as well.

“It is largely viewed that it is not healthy for the world, it is certainly not healthy for us, for the American people, our national security interests and otherwise, for this relationship to remain at this low level,” he added.

“Whether we can improve it or not remains to be seen. It is going to take some time, it’s going to take a lot of hard work. But the President’s committed, rightly so, and I’m committed with him as well to see if we can do something to put us on a better footing in our relationship with Russia,” said the top American diplomat.

Responding to a question on alleged Russian interference in American elections, Tillerson said it has been well documented but it is not in US national interest to have such a low relationship with Moscow.

“We have such a broad range of important issues that have to be addressed in the US-Russia relationship. Obviously, the interference in the election is one of those. I think it’s been well documented, it’s pretty well understood the nature of that interference here and elsewhere,” he said.

These are not new tactics on the part of the Russian government directed not only at the US but at others too, he noted.

“But again, I think we have to look at this relationship in its broadest contours. And there are many, many important areas which require our attention if we are to bring it back to a relationship that we believe is necessary for the security of the US,” he said.

However, Tillerson clarified that the Trump Administration is not trying to reset the relationship with Russia.

“I think it’s important to understand we’re not trying to start with a clean slate. Terms like having a reset are overused. You cannot reset, you cannot erase the past, you cannot start with a clean slate and we’re not trying to start with a clean slate,” he said.

“We’re starting with the slate we have and all the problems that are on that slate. We don’t dismiss any of them.

We don’t give anyone a free pass on any one of them. They’re part of the entire nature of the discussions we’re having with the Russians.

“And there are a large number of issues that we have to get around to addressing in order to put this relationship back together if that is indeed possible,” he said.