As Tillerson Visits, Russia Accuses US of Unlawful Syria Raid

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley berated Russian Federation for the move.

Lavrov greeted Tillerson with unusually icy remarks, denouncing the missile strike on Syria as illegal and accusing Washington of behaving unpredictably.

A vote by the U.N. Security council on a draft resolution to condemn the chemical weapon attack in Syria failed Wednesday with a veto by Russian Federation, but fellow member China abstained, a sign that talks with President Trump last week may have had an effect on the superpower.

Russian Federation has argued that civilians in the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun likely died of toxic agents released from a rebel arsenal hit by a Syrian airstrike - a theory categorically rejected by the United States and its allies.

Mr Tillerson and Mr Lavrov announced a number of measures to cool the confrontation.

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. The diplomats know each other well from Tillerson's days as Exxon Mobil CEO. Putin had even honoured Tillerson with a friendship award.

Unlike he has done with previous secretaries of state, Putin didn't keep Tillerson waiting for hours on Wednesday. Just as Tillerson sat down for talks, a senior Russian official assailed the "primitiveness and loutishness" of US rhetoric, part of a volley of statements that appeared timed to maximize the awkwardness during the first visit by a member of Trump's cabinet. They weren't authorized to discuss diplomatic conversations publicly and requested anonymity.

The attack on Khan Sheikhoun is expected to be near the top of the agenda when the OPCW's executive committee meets Thursday at the organization's headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands.

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, instead saying it may have been faked by Assad's enemies.

"The global community has spoken". The United States issued advance notice to Russian Federation to avoid hitting its personnel before unleashing a volley of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from U.S. warships in the Mediterranean.

Stopping just short of accusing Russian Federation of complicity with the sarin gas attack against civilians April 4, Trump said it's "certainly possible" that Russian Federation had advance knowledge of the use of chemical weapons by its ally.

Tillerson's Russian counterpart warned the US diplomat that Moscow believes it is "fundamentally important not to let these actions happen again in the future". "No one anyone in the world should have to face that kind of suffering", she said. Lynch and Mr. Kenner reported, the US representative to the organization, Kenneth Ward, said Syria had engaged "in a calculated campaign of intransigence and obfuscation, of deception, and of defiance".

United Nations investigators already have the mandate under previous resolutions to look into allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria but the West had pushed for council resolution to underscore its support for a thorough investigation in the Khan Sheikhun case.

Britain's UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told the UNSC that samples taken from the site of the gas attack, in an opposition-held area of northern Syria, have tested positive for the nerve gas sarin.

FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a statement about missile strikes on a Syrian airbase, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Fla., April 6, 2017.

President Obama, on April 28, 2014: "We're getting chemical weapons out of Syria without having initiated a strike". "I think it's probably unlikely", Trump said at a White House news conference with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary general Jens Stoltenberg after he was asked whether he thought Assad could launch the attack without his Russian ally's knowledge.

Russia, Assad's staunchest ally, has insisted the Syrian leader is blameless and that rebels disbursed chemical weapons.

Only weeks ago, it appeared that Trump, who praised Putin throughout the US election campaign, was poised for a potentially historic rapprochement with Russian Federation.

"We don't want a new Cold War", he said standing next to Trump. "It's very bad for this world", Trump told Fox Business News.

"I think it's certainly possible".

  • Leroy Wright