Tillerson Says US and Russia Remain Divided on Syria

Relations between the two powers have become strained over the Syrian crisis amid Moscow's continued support for President Bashar al Assad's regime. "I think it's very bad for Russian Federation".

Prior to Tillerson's arrival, hopes in Moscow had already dimmed that Trump would make good on his pledge to improve ties with Russian Federation, as relations with the Kremlin have become politically toxic on the back of claims that Putin conspired to get Trump elected.

The presidents of both countries personally waded into the day's diplomatic efforts in an apparent bid to move past some of the divisions, with Putin meeting with Tillerson for about two hours. The Kremlin had previously declined to confirm Putin would meet Tillerson.

Trump had frequently called during the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign for warmer ties with Putin, despite criticism from lawmakers in his own Republican Party.

France hopes that the United States military action and Washington's demand that Assad be barred from power, as part of a peace deal that will open up a new opportunity for a solution to the conflict.

"What we do know is the attack was planned and carried out by regime forces at the direction of Assad."Lavrov retorted by saying: "This is obviously the subject where our views differ".

He said that over time as more evidence is collated, the threshold necessary to charge Mr Assad with war crimes may be reached. In opening remarks in front of reporters, Lavrov greeted Tillerson with unusually icy remarks, denouncing the missile strike on Syria as illegal and accusing Washington of behaving unpredictably.

Shortly after Tillerson and Lavrov finished speaking to reporters, Trump said in a news conference in Washington that the United States is "not getting along with Russian Federation at all" and that their relations are at an "all-time low".

In a round of tense talks, one of the most pressing issues on the table was the chemical gas attack in Syria and the ensuing strike by the United States on a Syrian air base. Tillerson pointed to a lack of trust between the two countries. "The world's two foremost nuclear powers can not have this kind of relationship", he said.

Tillerson's comments are a notable reversal in the Trump administration's policy toward Syria.

"Right now we're not getting along with Russian Federation at all", Trump said flatly during a White House news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Soltenberg.

The Russian foreign minister also wants to know the real goals of the United States in Syria, calling the Trump administration's positions so far "ambiguous" and "contradictory", according to CNBC.

Back to New York, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that Russia would continue to be isolated from the global community, in the wake of the Russian veto of the draft resolution. The US scoops up such a large volume of communications intercepts in areas like Syria and Iraq, the material often is not processed unless there is a particular event that requires analysts to go back and look for supporting intelligence material.

"Are we insisting on it? No. I think it's very bad for mankind".

China typically sides with Russian Federation in the Security Council, including in opposing US -backed measures to punish Syria for its use of chemical weapons.

US-Russia relations are at another low after a chemical attack in Syria killed more than 80 people and wounded at least 550 others last week.

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.

Russian Federation is expected to veto the measure - which would mark the eighth time that Moscow has used its veto power to block Security Council action directed at Syria. Putin had even honored Tillerson with a friendship award. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating whether any Trump campaign figures colluded with Moscow, which the White House denies.

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