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Iran Press TV

Trump won't rule out lifting Russia sanctions: Aide

Iran Press TV

Tue Dec 13, 2016 6:59PM

An important member of the incoming Donald Trump administration says the United States might not keep sanctions against Russia in place under the new president.

Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus, who was named last month by Trump to be his White House chief of staff, made the remarks in an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday morning.

Priebus said that he was "not prepared to outline our foreign policy" when asked if Trump intends to keep sanctions in place against Russia over its alleged support for anti-Kiev fighters in Ukraine and the 2014 reunification of the Crimean peninsula with the Russian mainland.

"Here's what I would tell you: If you are going to have sanctions in place, they need to be enforced. That I can tell you for sure is something he believes in, and as far as where that product goes next, you have to just wait and see," Priebus said.

"I mean, we are just getting our cabinet put together now, and as I think president-elect outlined many times over the last six weeks, sitting down with our generals, sitting down with our leadership, formulating our policy and revealing that to the American people will be the first order of business," he stated.

Priebus's indication that the incoming president might lift sanctions against Russia came as Trump announced plans to nominate ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state.

Tillerson has reportedly close business relations with Russia and was awarded "Order of Friendship" -- one of the country's most prestigious awards given to foreign nationals -- by the Russian government in 2013. He has often spoken out against sanctions in the past, calling them ineffective.

The sanctions were originally introduced against Moscow in March 2014, after Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea joined Russia.

Since then, the US and some other Western countries have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia over accusations that Moscow has been involved in the deadly crisis in Ukraine, which broke out when Kiev launched military operations to crack down on pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin, however, has strongly rejected the accusations.

The sanctions target the Russian energy, banking and military sectors. Moscow has also imposed tit-for-tat sanctions against the EU.

In September, the US Department of the Treasury expanded sanctions against Russia, targeting companies building a multi-billion dollar bridge to link Russia with Crimea, and also added dozens of people and companies to the list.

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