AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
In Russia, officials say they're pleased that Rex Tillerson has finally been sworn in as U.S. secretary of state. When Tillerson was an ExxonMobil executive, Vladimir Putin awarded him Russia's Order of Friendship. Now Russians expect him to improve relations with the Kremlin, though it's not expected to happen overnight. NPR's Lucian Kim reports from Moscow.
LUCIAN KIM, BYLINE: Secretary of State Tillerson is no stranger to Russia, and his confirmation Wednesday was just another piece of good news on Russian TV.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Speaking Russian).
KIM: Over at the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament, Konstantin Kosachev was planning how to jumpstart relations with the U.S.
KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: I believe this is good news, at least in terms of getting a real partner for further consultations and talks.
KIM: Kosachev, chairman of the Federation Council foreign relations committee, said Russia must take the initiative and push for more cooperation with the U.S. in areas like nuclear arms control and fighting international terrorism. At the same time, he said, everybody in Moscow expects the Trump administration to put America first.
KOSACHEV: I definitely do not consider Mr. Tillerson as a pro-Russian American politician. He will not be an easy partner for Russia, but we do not seek easy partners. We seek pragmatic partners, and I believe that we have a chance.
KIM: Like many Russians, Kosachev believes the world could have slid into war had Hillary Clinton won the election. At least that risk has been eliminated with Donald Trump's victory, he said, and now a summit meeting between Trump and Putin should be organized in the coming months.
KOSACHEV: (Speaking Russian).
KIM: If we start operating with the Americans, Kosachev said, we'll also be able to hold them back from making mistakes. After all, he said, President Trump may not fully realize the consequences of his proposed actions, like moving the U.S. embassy in Israel or recognizing Taiwan as an equal to China. Lucian Kim, NPR News, Moscow.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.