Published: Wed, April 19, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

US, Russia hold first high-level meeting in Moscow as Assad's fate discussed

US, Russia hold first high-level meeting in Moscow as Assad's fate discussed

The vote came after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow to discuss the escalating tensions in Syria.

Many Western countries blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the chemical attack, and Trump vowed to do something about it.

The Russian diplomat claimed some progress was made on the crisis in the war-ravaged country and a working group would be set up to examine the poor state of US-Russia relations.

Lavrov said President Vladimir Putin confirmed his "readiness" to resume a deal on flight safety and preventing incidents with the Syria.

The deal was suspended after U.S. strikes against a Syrian airbase following last week's suspected chemical attack in Idlib province, in an act Moscow labelled "aggression against a sovereign state".

Syria's government has denied responsibility for the gas attack that killed at least 87 people, many of whom were children.

Will Trump's often-stated desire to reset relations with Russian Federation come true or will the ties between the two countries stay at the "low" mentioned by Tillerson?

There were only a handful of issues Tillerson and Lavrov said they broadly agreed on - that the Korean peninsula should be denuclearized, Syria should be "unified and stable" after the Islamic State is defeated, and that there should be more communication between U.S. and Russian diplomats and militaries. He said Russia's hope was that Putin's message would be passed on to US President Donald Trump. "Russian Federation now has a lot to prove", US Ambassador Nikki Haley said. "We have already seen all of this".

Though the resolution would have provided chemical weapons investigators with access in Syria, a Russian representative to the United Nations said it didn't "serve a useful goal".

Tillerson noted the low level of trust between the two countries.

The two sides spoke of the low-level of trust between them and the USA, noting it's an unacceptable state of strain between the world's two biggest nuclear powers.

He said this was "concluded" during Wednesday's visit of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Moscow.

Tillerson said that Russian Federation could help Assad "recognize this reality".

But Russia, an ally of Syria, blocked a draft UN Security Council resolution which would require President Assad to provide information about air operations and grant inspectors immediate access to air bases.

But he reversed his position at the conference, telling journalists: "I said it was obsolete".

"Currently, 40% of voters say they approve of how Trump is handling foreign policy".

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