Published: Tue, April 18, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

We're not getting along with Russia

We're not getting along with Russia

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

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian President Vladimir Putin appear to agree on at least one thing - the relationship between the U.S. and Russia is at a low point even for the two historic adversaries.

Could Syria have launched the chemical weapons attack with Russia's advance knowledge? "So that certain interests and constituencies that he represents feel they have been represented at the negotiating table for a political solution". But as for the broader relationship, it's not even clear yet whether President Trump and Putin might meet.

Tillerson said both nations would set up a "working group" to seek ways to ease tensions.

"So I am dismayed that Russian Federation has once again blocked the UN Security Council and in so doing refused to condemn the use of chemical weapons or support a full UN investigation into the attack". Is there a way ahead for the US and Russian Federation on Syria?

"We frankly discussed the current state of the U.S. -Russia relations".

During the meeting, Lavrov doubled down on Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, repeating denials that Assad's government was to blame for the gas attack last week and adding a new theory that the attack may have been faked by Assad's enemies.

More than 80 people were killed in what the U.S. has described as a nerve gas attack that Syrian president Bashar Assad's forces undoubtedly carried out.

Tillerson did raise the prospect of criminal proceedings at some point over the attack, including against Assad himself, but warned there were be major legal obstacles to this. "I do not know who saw them".

Tillerson avoided giving specific details of how Assad would leave power, saying, "We leave that to the process going forward".

Trump's top aides said earlier this month that the President was moved by the photos and video of children suffering from the effects of the chemical attack and that those pictures, in a way, compelled him to take action against the Syrian president.

Haley said Wednesday the "ready to throw our weight and resources behind diplomacy" to bring the six-year war in Syria to an end.

The civil war is separate from the USA -led effort against the Islamic State group in the north of the country.

"Our view is the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end", Tillerson said.

Candidate Trump famously took a hard line on China and trade, while simultaneously signaling that he didn't much care about China's geostrategic expansion and conflict with other Pacific powers, including the United States.

The secretary has repeatedly advised Russian Federation to rethink its support for the Syrian leader. Terry Moran joins us live from Moscow.

Only weeks ago, it appeared that Trump, who praised Putin throughout the USA election campaign, was poised for a potentially historic rapprochement with Russian Federation. Any expectations of an easy rapport have crashed into reality amid the nasty back-and-forth over Syria and ongoing US investigations into Russia's activity connected to the USA presidential election. The Cold War may be over, but from Eastern Europe to the Middle East, Washington and Moscow don't see the world the same way.

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