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Russia Says In Talks With U.S. On Creating Cybersecurity Workgroup

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit

Moscow and Washington are in negotiations to create a joint cybersecurity working group, Andrei Krutskikh, a special presidential envoy on cybersecurity told Russian news agencies on July 20.

"The talks are underway... Different proposals are being exchanged. Nobody denies the necessity of holding the talks and of having such contacts," Krutskikh was reported as saying.

"This is routine diplomatic work which naturally should produce its result, taking account of the realities, primarily internal political ones, which exist in the United States."

Svetlana Lukash, a Russian official who was at the recent Group of 20 summit in Germany, said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed during their talks there to discuss cybersecurity questions, either via the United Nations or as part of a working group.

Trump said also after the summit that he had discussed the idea of creating such a group with Putin.

But after U.S. congressional leaders criticized the plan in light of Russia's alleged hacking of last year's presidential election, Trump appeared to back away, saying on Twitter: "The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn't mean I think it can happen. It can't."

Thomas Bossert, Trump's top counterterrorism adviser, told reporters after the summit that it would be premature to suggest the United States agreed to form a cybersecurity "partnership" with Russia.

"A partnership suggests that you've reached a place where you believe that you have a trusted relationship and you've come to some common agreement on ideals and goals and behaviors," he said.

"I don't believe that the United States and Russia have come to that point yet in cyberspace," Bossert said. "And until we do, we wouldn't have the conversation about partnership. But we had to have a dialogue, and that's where we'll start."

A U.S. intelligence official told Reuters that cooperation on cybersecurity is only a "pipe dream" for Russia as long as Moscow continues to deny what U.S. intelligence agencies concluded last year: that it hacked the U.S. election.

With reporting by Reuters, RIA Novosti, TASS, and Interfax