That said, this official also admitted that the White House had thought the photographer worked only for Lavrov, not for a state-run news agency.
"There's something odd, I've got to tell you, about this protection of this U.S. -Russia relationship from the get-go - from the campaign through the transition through the first four months of the administration", the president of the Council on Foreign Relations told CNBC's "Squawk Box".
The official also pushed back on critics who have questioned whether Trump should have met in the Oval Office with Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, whose interactions with Trump campaign officials have come under scrutiny by federal and congressional investigators.
"Our official photographer and their official photographer were present, that's it", said one aide shortly after the meeting.
Donald Trump had what he called a "very, very good" meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House yesterday (May 10).
"Was he fired? You're kidding", Lavrov said sarcastically, feigning surprise as he started his day of meetings in Washington.
President Trump shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the White House Wednesday in Washington.
Hertz Shares Plunge After Company Widens Loss, Misses Expectations
COPYRIGHT VIOLATION NOTICE: This piece was originally published by The Cerbat Gem and is the property of of The Cerbat Gem. Company's distance from 20 day simple moving average is -6.81% and distance from 50-Day simple moving average is -18.16%.
President Donald Trump urged the Russian foreign minister to "rein in" Syria's Assad regime and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies, a key Israeli demand. "There is not a single fact, there is no compelling evidence given to anyone regarding Russia's intervention and that's it". Nevertheless, Lavrov struck a conciliatory tone and said Russian Federation isn't intending to retaliate. Lavrov said the meeting mainly focused on ideas of de-escalation zones in Syria.
Former U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was forced to resign for failing to disclose the content of his talks with Kislyak and then misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations. But the two countries, the most powerful of the many external actors that have been drawn into the Syrian war, agree on the goal of defeating the Islamic State extremist group.
"What we want to do is we want to see the killing, the awful killing in Syria, stop as soon as possible and everybody's working toward that end", Trump said.
In his earlier meeting with Lavrov, Tillerson emphasized the USA wouldn't lift sanctions on Russian Federation related to Ukraine until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered the punishment - namely, its Crimea annexation.
"Putin doesn't want to follow the lead of those who are trying to poison our relations to the point of no return", he said.
But the latest round of talks - coming just a month after Tillerson traveled to Moscow to talk with Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and just a week after Trump and Putin spoke on the phone - could signal an attempt to warm relations between the two countries.