Russia: Vladimir Putin meets Rex Tillerson as Syria rift deepens

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson left and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shake hands prior to their talks in Moscow Russia Wednesday

"They were there. We'll find that out", he said.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has denied responsibility for the chemical attack.

.

World leaders had called for an global probe into the attack in Khan Sheikhoun last week, which prompted a retaliatory United States missile strike on a Syrian airbase.

Russian Federation had earlier vetoed a United Nations resolution demanding the Syrian government cooperate with an investigation of the suspected chemical attack, saying that Moscow had consistently expressed its "categorical disagreement" with the draft resolution, which led to further criticism from the West including the US. He noted a shared vision of an "uncompromising" war on terrorism.

While neither Tillerson nor Lavrov cited concrete avenues of cooperation, beyond establishing a working group to address what Tillerson called "smaller issues", Lavrov agreed there were many problems.

"Russia once again has chosen to side with Assad, even as the rest of the world, including the Arab world, overwhelmingly comes together to condemn this murderous regime", Haley told the 15-member Security Council. "This is just the latest use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime", he said, noting that Assad had presided over more than 50 attacks, using weapons such as cluster bombs and chlorine bombs "intended to maim and kill in the most horrific ways".

Russia, one of Syria's few worldwide allies, vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution which would require the regime to provide detailed information about air operations and immediate access to air bases.


Washington's conclusions rely on satellite imagery, laboratory analysis of physiological samples from victims and a "significant body of open source reporting" that the report says could not have been fabricated.

The U.S. struck Syria with 59 missiles launched from two Navy ships in the Mediterranean last week hitting the Shayrat base, near the city of Homs in Syria. That preoccupation sharpened on Tuesday when Trump signed off on Montenegro's long-expected accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Speaking following the meetings, Mr Lavrov ruled out withdrawing his support for Syrian leader Assad, saying that "ousting a particular personality is not on our agenda".

But he renewed his demand that Nato's members boost military spending to at least two percent of gross domestic product.

Trump said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had completed a successful meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, where "things went pretty well".

Putin, in a television interview ahead of the talks, was more blunt about the new chill in ties, and firmly rejected Washington's view of the Syrian attack.

Lavrov said Moscow was hoping to understand Washington's "real intentions" and warned that Moscow considered it "fundamentally important" to prevent more "unlawful" United States strikes against its ally Syria.

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