Trump signs Russia sanctions bill into law

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has signed into law new sanctions against Russia that were passed overwhelmingly by Congress last week and that run counter to his desire to improve relations with Moscow.
A White House official said on Wednesday he had signed the bill, and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway confirmed this during an interview with Fox News.
Given the delay since Congress approved the legislation last Thursday, there had been speculation that the Republican president might be resisting signing a bill that has already provoked countermeasures by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Congress, controlled by Republicans, approved the sanctions to punish the Russian government over interference in the 2016 presidential election, annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and other perceived violations of international norms.
Trump, who has long said he would like better relations with Russia, grudgingly accepted the new sanctions, which also include Iran and North Korea. The bill had enough support in Congress to override a presidential veto.
There were conflicting signals from the administration in recent days about the sanctions. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters on Tuesday that he and Trump did not believe they would “be helpful to our efforts” on diplomacy with Russia. Vice- President Mike Pence said that the bill showed Trump and Congress were speaking “with a unified voice.”
Any efforts by Trump to forge better ties with Moscow have been hamstrung by findings of US intelligence agencies that Russia interfered to help the Republican against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. US congressional committees and a special counsel are investigating. Moscow denies any meddling and Trump denies any collusion by his campaign.
The new sanctions measure, the first major foreign policy legislation approved by Congress since Trump took office in January, includes a provision allowing Congress to stop any effort by the president to ease existing sanctions on Russia. — Reuters