Jim Mattis: No evidence Putin wants positive relationship with US

James Comey accuses Donald Trump administration of defaming him and telling 'lies'Reuters

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has claimed there is no indication that Russia wants a positive relationship with the United States.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had chosen to be a "strategic competitor" rather than a close ally to the US, Mattis told an Armed Services Committee hearing on Monday evening (12 June).

"I do not see any indication that Mr. Putin would want a positive relationship with us," he said.

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"That is not to say we can't get there as we look for common ground," he added. "But at this point, he has chosen to be competitive, a strategic competitor with us and we will have to deal with that as we see it."

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, said Russia has an adversarial relationship with the US.

Russia and the US have clashed on a number of foreign policy issues. The Kremlin demanded this weekend that the US stop attacking forces that support the Syrian government as they overtake positions held by Isis on the country's border with Iraq.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticised US air strikes against those battling Isis in a phone call to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Saturday (10 June).

"Lavrov expressed his categorical disagreement with the US strikes on pro-government forces and called on him to take concrete measures to prevent similar incidents in future," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

On Monday, US senators said they were close to approving legislation that would impose new sanctions on Russia.

Mattis' damning comments about US-Russia relations come after former FBI Director James Comey's explosive testimony last week. Comey told a Senate hearing that President Trump had asked him to drop his investigation into Michael Flynn's communication with the Russian ambassador.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify in public at 2.30pm local time (7.30pm BST) on Tuesday.

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