Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Trump says US-Russia relations "may be at an all-time low"

Trump says US-Russia relations

During his campaign, Trump said he was open to cooperating with Russian Federation on Syria and that removing Assad was not a priority.

The Haley Doctrine: The Trump Doctrine is still proving elusive as the administration and the president himself have struggled to find and stick to cohesive and non-contradictory messaging about Syria and other areas of foreign policy.

Putin's spokesman said Putin may meet with Tillerson "if it is decided" that Putin needs to be briefed on the Tillerson-Lavrov talks.

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.

"Right now, we're not getting along with Russian Federation at all".

Trump's comments come as his administration had slammed Russia's support for Syrian leader President Bashar al-Assad and questioned the Kremlin's interference in elections in Montenegro.

Lavrov also complained about the mixed messages coming out of Washington on the Trump administration's policy on Syria, with the USA envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, making it clear that Assad should have no future in Syria as Tillerson took a softer line. Lavrov and Tillerson's talks are expected to focus on Syria and allegations that Russian Federation interfered in USA elections.

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

The news conference came after Lavrov issued a warning to Tillerson, Wednesday against any further U.S. strikes on the Syrian regime.

One of Lavrov's deputies was even more undiplomatic.

Stoltenberg said within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance, the US military action on Syria has been met with understanding. "We hope that the USA president will become aware of that analysis", he said Thursday.

The talks appeared unlikely to bring any significant breakthroughs after last week's missile strike plunged U.S.

"It can be said that the level of trust at the working level, especially at the military level, has not become better, but most likely has degraded", Putin said in an interview broadcast Wednesday by state television channel Mir as Tillerson held his first meeting with Lavrov. "The world's two foremost nuclear powers can not have this kind of relationship", Tillerson, who once received a medal of friendship from Putin, told a Moscow news conference.

"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 said alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House on April 12.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council: "We want to work with Russian Federation to advance a political process in Syria". Mr Lavrov said there was no evidence of regime guilt for the attack and flatly rejected calls for Russian Federation to collaborate in regime change, saying "we already knew all too well how this ends". "This has built for a long period of time, but we'll see what happens".

"Are we going to get involved with Syria?"

"Are we insisting on it? No".

The intercepts were part of an immediate review of all intelligence in the hours after the attack to confirm responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in an attack in northwestern Syria, which killed at least 70 people.

Trump responded to the gas attack by firing 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base on Friday.

Lavrov gave Tillerson an icy welcome Wednesday, diving straight into Moscow's grievances with Washington in what would usually be warm opening remarks.

Moscow has stood by Assad, saying the poison gas belonged to rebels, an explanation Washington dismisses as beyond credible.

Russian Federation has blocked a Western-led effort at the UN Security Council to both condemn the chemical attack in Syria, and push Moscow's ally President Bashar al-Assad to cooperate with global inquiries into the incident.

"Russia's veto exposes the hollowness of Putin's call yesterday for United Nations investigations", he said in a statement. Tillerson is a former oil executive who was awarded Russia's Order of Friendship by Putin.

Still, Trump quickly reverted to a conciliatory tone Thursday, hinting that he hasn't abandoned hope for warmer ties. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating whether any Trump campaign figures colluded with Moscow, which the White House denies.

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