March 25, 2019 / 10:31 AM / 2 months ago

Kremlin, after Mueller report, says it's open to better U.S. ties

FILE PHOTO: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov looks on during a visit to the Mazda Sollers Manufacturing Rus joint venture plant of Sollers and Japanese Mazda in Vladivostok, Russia September 10, 2018. Valery Sharifulin/TASS Host Photo Agency/Pool via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is ready to improve ties with the United States but it is up to Washington to make the first move, the Kremlin said on Monday after the conclusion of a U.S. investigation into alleged collusion between Donald Trump and Moscow in the 2016 election.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in a summary released on Sunday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had found no evidence of collusion in his investigation, though had not determined whether Trump obstructed justice by undermining inquiries that have dogged his presidency.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the report on a conference call and said Russia had never interfered and did not plan to interfere in the United States or other countries’ internal affairs and elections.

“...It’s hard to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat,” Peskov told reporters.

U.S. intelligence agencies said shortly before Trump took office in January 2017 that Moscow meddled in the presidential election with a campaign of email hacking and online propaganda aimed at sowing discord in the United States.

Commenting on the possibility of an improvement in ties with the United States after the conclusion of the Mueller report, Peskov said President Vladimir Putin had repeatedly stated he was open to shoring up relations.

“In this case, the ball is absolutely in their court. It was given to Trump in Helsinki,” Peskov said, referring to a summit between Putin and Trump in the Finnish capital in July 2018.

Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Maxim Rodionov; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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