Seeking to salvage ties, USA and Russian Federation agree on Syria probe
Apr 13 2017 by Joshua Bennett
Instead, Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who had met earlier on Wednesday, joined Putin for almost two hours.
-Russian relations had badly deteriorated, despite Trump's friendly words for Putin during the election campaign, and suspicions among US officials that Moscow helped Trump get elected. It was stark evidence that the president is moving ever further from his campaign promises to establish better ties with Moscow.
Lavrov greeted Tillerson with a handshake and criticism of the Trump administration's "very ambiguous and contradictory ideas" on foreign policy. "We frankly discussed the current state of U.S. -Russia relations". At the press conference after the meeting, Tillerson said the Assad regime was responsible for the chemical attack, and Lavrov swiftly asserted that Russian Federation was not convinced and called for more investigation. "It may be just the opposite". Putin's decision to host Tillerson signaled Moscow's intent to maintain communication with the USA even as the countries bash each other publicly in louder and louder tones. "It's not clear whether the Pentagon or Central Intelligence Agency really have Trump's ear", Giraldi said.
The newly hardened view of Moscow comes as the president has tried to shake suspicions about the motives behind his campaign calls for warmer relations. He also warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that he is backing the wrong guy. The U.S. and Russian Federation have sharply disagreed over whether Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces or rebels were responsible for the chemical weapons attack last week that led to U.S. retaliatory cruise missiles.
Since Trump took office in January, he has been confronted by European allies who have fear his administration will go easy on Russian Federation.
Ahead of Tillerson's visit tempers rose sharply as USA officials suggested Russian forces may have colluded in the latest atrocity blamed on Assad's regime that left 87 civilians dead including children in the town of Khan Sheikhun.
As a young president, I asked, was it hard for him to make that final decision, knowing there were certain casualties and a potential for escalation?
But Trump's relationship with Putin, at least initially, appeared to be much better. That may hardly be punishment for the Kremlin, which dismissed many of Obama's similar warnings about Russian Federation being sucked into a quagmire in Syria with no way out while tarnishing its worldwide reputation. It could be interpreted as a revived rivalry between the USA and Russian Federation.
Putin on Wednesday continued to downplay any direct involvement by Assad into the chemical attack. On Tuesday, Tillerson said that Putin's government has aligned itself with an "unreliable partner" in Assad, whose reign is coming to an end, as well as Iran and Hezbollah. And it's incredible where we've come because since those airstrikes and since this chemical attack, Tillerson and the Trump administration, I mean, a much harder line against Russian Federation.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blasted USA claims that it has "irrefutable evidence" of election interference.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis has said that while defeating ISIS was first priority, further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime would not be tolerated and could warrant additional military action.
"I think that they knew (what was going on), yes", Haley told CNN.
Washington says it acted to punish the Syrian government for what it said was a devastating nerve gas attack Damascus launched against its own people that killed scores.