Tillerson Says US and Russia Remain Divided on Syria

16 April, 2017, 02:48 | Author: Elaine Woods

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday, April 12, said the relations between the US and Russian Federation were "at a low point" and the two countries remained divided on a range of issues, including Syria.

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

Russian Federation on late Wednesday vetoed a United Nations (UN) resolution demanding the Syrian government cooperate with an investigation into 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 United States. "Right now, we're not getting along with Russia at all - we may be at an all-time low in terms of our relationship with Russia", Trump admitted.

It was the eighth veto by Russian Federation, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, on a Western-backed Syria resolution and reflected the deep division that has left the U.N.'s most powerful body struggling to tackle the use of banned chemical weapons and to help end the six-year Syrian conflict.

Trump has given such criticism short shrift, decrying the "vicious slaughter of innocent civilians with chemical weapons" and calling Assad a "butcher" and an "animal".

While the United States says not all available intelligence has been released to protect its sources and the methods, it affirms that sarin gas was released from a pipe dropped from the air.

Describing the Syrian leader as a "butcher" he said he had "absolutely no doubt" the U.S. had done the "right thing".

He called the U.S. military action "genius", and stated that Xi, too, "was OK with it".

There is a low level of trust between our two countries.

Peskov also said Putin had given Tillerson his views on the situation in Syria, and how it was likely to develop.

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He also underlined that war on terrorism should be a true war on terrorism and not just a symbolic war.

But neither side cited concrete avenues of cooperation, beyond establishing a working group to address what Tillerson called "smaller issues".

The strikes came after a chemical attack killed 89 people in the opposition-held Idlib Governorate. We say "embarrassment" because Russia did not respond militarily to the Turkish downing of the Russian fighter jet, so how will it respond to United States strikes against Assad after he used chemical weapons which Moscow pledged to remove in 2013? China opted to abstain, a move Trump praised.

The toxic gas attack on April 4 prompted the United States to launch missile strikes on a Syrian air base and widened a rift between the United States and Russian Federation. Even if we have them, we wouldn't use them. "It's no longer obsolete", he said, though he repeated previous calls by USA presidents for Nato's European members to increase their defence spending.

A senior U.S. administration official speaking on condition of anonymity also said the White House has seen credible reports that Moscow backed an election-day attack in Montenegro a year ago.

During Tillerson's visit to Moscow on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave the top US diplomat an earful of criticism over the USA strike. Western leaders backed the US action, saying Assad had brought it on himself.

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

As it stands, Putin will not allow any more embarrassments in Syria.

He said general agreement was reached at the meeting of the need to keep open lines of communication between Moscow and Washington.

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