WASHINGTON, November 20 (Sputnik) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov mischaracterized his private conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry when he claimed that Kerry told him to ignore US President Barack Obama's statement listing Russia among the world's main threats, the US State Department has announced.
"We've seen naturally the reports of Mr. Lavrov's comments. It's unfortunate that these reports indicate that the foreign minister has incorrectly characterized the private diplomatic discussions between himself and Secretary Kerry," US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said at a Wednesday press briefing.
Rathke's comments came after Lavrov said Wednesday that Kerry had asked him to ignore the statement made by Obama in order to have discussions with Moscow on the Iranian nuclear program issue and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
"That is an incorrect characterization," Rathke stressed, adding that the United States will continue to work with Russia in areas of mutual cooperation.
When asked if Kerry believes that Russia is a principal threat to the world, Rathke said that "the Secretary supports the President's statements regarding Russia and he didn't indicate otherwise in this conversation".
In his speech at the G20 summit in Australia, Obama called Russia's alleged aggression toward Ukraine a "threat to the world". The statement echoes his speech to the UN General Assembly in September, in which he named Russia among the gravest global threats along with the Ebola virus and the rise of terrorism in Iraq and Syria.
Lavrov previously noted that Obama's statement does not reflect the perception of Russia in the world, saying that such a viewpoint is a distortion of reality that is beyond reason.
Relations between Russia and the United States have aggravated amid the Ukrainian crisis, with the United States and other Western countries accusing Moscow of interfering in Ukraine's internal affairs.
Russia has repeatedly denied its involvement in the conflict, but the West has nevertheless imposed several rounds of economic sanctions against Russia.