Trump says US-Russia relations 'may be at an all-time low'

Jon Howard
April 15, 2017

The Syrian government has denied responsibility for the attack, and Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested earlier this week that the attack was a "false flag" created to frame Assad.

Beyond Syria, Russia's alleged meddling in the U.S. presidential election also hovered over what was the first face-to-face encounter between Mr Putin and any Trump administration Cabinet member.

Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said Syria had sent dozens of letters to the Security Council, some detailing "the smuggling of sarin from Libya through Turkey on a civilian air plane by using a Syrian citizen".

Details of the meeting were not released.

During remarks alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Tillerson said that he and Putin "frankly discussed the current state of U.S. -Russia relations".

However, the BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Moscow says President Assad is Russia's key military ally in the Middle East and Mr Tillerson may need to rethink his belief that he can weaken Moscow's support for him.

The news conference came after Russian president Putin met the top American diplomat for nearly two hours to see if they could rescue relations between the world's mightiest military powers. Russian Federation is a key supporter of Assad's.

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During a joint press conference Wednesday, Tillerson said the two had a "lengthy exchange of views regarding the situation in Syria and shared perspectives on possible ways forward".

But Russia, an ally of Syria, used its powers in the United Nations to block it.

Tillerson's meeting with Putin comes after an icy reception upon arriving in Moscow and a closed-door meeting with Lavrov.

The White House also says Russian Federation has been trying to deflect blame for the chemical attack that killed 89 people.

"So Russia faces a choice: it can continue acting as a lifeline for Assad's murderous regime, or it could live up to its responsibilities as a global power, and use its influence over the regime to bring six long years of failed ceasefires and false dawns to an end".

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, warned Moscow against protecting Assad, who relies on support from Russian Federation and Iran in his conflict with mostly Sunni Muslim rebels. "I would like to think that they didn't know, but certainly they could have". "That's exactly what is happening now..." -Russian relations. "The working level of confidence in Russian-American relations, especially at the military level, under the administration of Donald Trump, has not improved, but rather worsened", he said.

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