Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Lavrov jokes that US media doesn't offer real news

Published:Friday | May 19, 2017 | 5:00 AM
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov pauses during talks with the Cyprus' foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides, at the foreign ministry in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, yesterday. (AP)

NICOSIA (AP):

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov yesterday mocked US news reports suggesting President Donald Trump inappropriately shared sensitive intelligence with him about terror threats involving laptops on aeroplanes.

Without directly confirming the details of their conversation, Lavrov said he didn't understand what the "secret" was, since the US introduced a ban on laptops on airlines from some Middle Eastern countries two months ago.

He joked that some US media were acting like communist newspapers in the former Soviet Union and not offering real news.

"There used to be a joke in the Soviet Union that there was no news in the newspaper Pravda and no truth in the newspaper Izvestia," Lavrov said through a translator. "It's true, I get the impression that many US media are working in this vein."

The Russian word 'pravda' means truth, while 'izvestia' means news. They are also the names of two long-running newspapers in Russia.

Lavrov was in Cyprus yesterday for talks with his Cypriot counterpart.

Asked to comment on the controversy surrounding the reported intelligence sharing, he said media have reported that "the secret" Trump told him was that "'terrorists' are capable of stuffing laptops, all kinds of electronic devices, with untraceable explosive materials.

"As far as I can recall, maybe one month or two months before, the Trump administration had an official ban on laptops on airlines from seven middle Eastern counties and it was connected directly with the terrorist threat," Lavrov added. "So, if you're talking about that, I see no secret here."

The Washington Post reported this week that Trump shared highly classified information with Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak about an Islamic State terror threat involving laptops on aircraft. Other outlets, including The Associated Press later confirmed the report.

Trump responded by tweeting that as president, he had authority to disclose whatever he likes. He did not deny discussing classified information.