U.S. President Donald Trump will receive Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov at the White House Wednesday even as a political firestorm has put Moscow's alleged meddling in the U.S. election back in the spotlight.
Lavrov's visit, confirmed by the White House late Tuesday, centers on a Russian proposal to de-escalate the violence in Syria's civil war.
But it comes just a day after the president stunned Washington by firing James Comey as director of the FBI amid an investigation into whether Trump campaign aides colluded with Russia to sway the November elections.
The sacking prompted angry Democrats to call for the Russia probe to be placed in the hands an independent prosecutor or commission.
The uproar seemed certain to complicate Lavrov's mission in search of U.S. support for a Russian plan to create safe zones in Syria.
He first holds talks with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and then goes on to the White House to meet Trump.
Lavrov, who last set foot in Washington in August 2013, would be the highest ranking Russian official to meet with Trump since he took office.