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Pompeo says he told Russia's Lavrov election interference is inappropriate

ROVANIEMI, Finland (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he discussed concerns about interference in upcoming U.S. elections with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday and told him interference was “not appropriate.”

Replying to a reporter’s question, Pompeo said the issue was one of many topics he discussed with Lavrov on the sidelines of a meeting of the Arctic Council.

Asked what he told Lavrov, Pompeo said: “The same thing I’ve shared with him each time we’ve had a chance to cover that particular topic, which is that it’s not appropriate.”

A report by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller released last month found the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election “in sweeping and systematic fashion,” favoring Republican President Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump said on Friday that he discussed “the Russia Hoax” in his first phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin since the Mueller report but did not raise with him concerns about Russian meddling in U.S. elections.

“We didn’t discuss that. Really, we didn’t discuss it,” Trump said when asked if he urged Putin not to meddle in the 2020 election, when Trump will be seeking re-election.

Pompeo said a wide range of issues were covered in his “good conversation” with Lavrov.

“We have interests that are definitely different. ... There was a desire to begin to try and find paths where we can make real progress on places where we have overlapping interests, as narrow as they may be, and hope we can achieve that,” Pompeo said.

Reporting by Simon Johnson; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Peter Cooney