Tillerson, Lavrov open tense meeting in Moscow

Tillerson, Lavrov open tense meeting in Moscow

One day after US cruise missiles destroyed Syrian jets, fuel and radars at the Sharyat air base, Russia withdrew from the so-called "deconfliction line", which is a military-to-military daily phone call used since late 2015 to communicate the locations of USA and Russian air and ground forces in Syria.

After the UN vote, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Russian Federation was "on the wrong side of the argument", while French President Francois Hollande said it "bears a heavy responsibility" for continuing to protect Mr Assad and blocking a united worldwide response.

The draft resolution, aimed at condemning the April 4th chemical weapons attack in Syria and calling on the Syrian regime to cooperate with an independent global investigation, would have passed if not for Russia's veto.

US President Donald Trump described the relationship between the two countries as at an "all-time low". Lavrov said the meeting between Tillerson and Putin lasted for over two hours. President Trump put it more bluntly.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that "if it is decided" that the Russian president needs to be briefed on the outcome of the Tillerson-Lavrov talks, he will meet them.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, called on Moscow to stop protecting Assad and said the United States wants to work with Russian Federation toward a political solution for Syria.

Moscow has strenuously objected to Trump's decision to launch 59 U.S. Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base that the U.S. says was used to pummel civilians with nerve gas, resulting in 87 deaths.


The most immediate dispute concerned culpability for the chemical weapons, though broader disagreements over everything from Ukraine to Russia's support for once-fringe candidates in European elections are among other sore points.

"What we do know- and we have very firm and high confidence in our conclusions- that the attack was carried out and planned by the regime forces at the direction of al-Assad", Tillerson said.

It was unclear whether Putin, who once gave Tillerson an "Order of Friendship" award, would grant the visiting American an audience in Moscow.

Mr Trump's pre-election calls for closer ties with Russian Federation and Mr Putin seem to have been overcome by their differences over the war in Syria. Putin's decision to host Tillerson signalled Moscow's intent to maintain communication with the USA even as the countries bash each other publicly in louder and louder tones.

USA intelligence officials speculate that Russian Federation allowed the attack to happen, although there are no known intercepts confirming the suspicion.

"It's really pitiful to hear such irresponsible and provocative statements from the most important leader in the Western world", Ja'afari said.

"Frankly, Putin is backing a person that's truly an evil person", Trump said, referring to Assad. But in a Fox Business Network interview, the USA president said he wouldn't intervene militarily against Assad unless the Syrian leader resorts to using weapons of mass destruction again. During his 2016 campaign, Trump said he would decide whether to honor the commitment to protect the Baltic republics against Russian aggression, based on whether those countries "have fulfilled their obligations to us". "I like to think they didn't know". "So that certain interests and constituencies that he represents feel they have been represented at the negotiating table for a political solution".

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