Putin Meets With Tillerson

Early expectations of an easy rapport between the Trump administration and Russian Federation are crashing into reality as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has a fraught meeting in Moscow beset by escalating allegations over Syria.

Not long before Trump spoke, Russian Federation vetoed a Western-backed United Nations resolution that would have condemned the chemical weapons attack and demanded a speedy investigation.

Last week, the US responded to a chemical attack on civilians by Assad forces by launching missiles against a regime air base thought to have been used in the attack, which killed at least 100 civilians.

Mr Johnson said it was "highly likely" the Syrian regime was responsible for the toxic gas attack and called on Russian Federation to stop acting "as a lifeline for Assad's murderous regime".

Following the recent nerve gas attack on Syrian civilians, the U.S. and other G7 nations have endorsed calls for Russian Federation to abandon Bashir al-Assad.

Putin received Tillerson at the Kremlin along with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after the top diplomats held several hours of talks dominated by the fallout of an alleged chemical attack in Syria.

"Russia is ready for that, ready for dialogue with the U.S.in various spheres, and not only for dialogue but also for joint activities in both countries' interest".

He said the visit - the first to Moscow by a senior Trump administration official - offered an opportunity to clarify the chances of cooperation "above all on the formation of a broad anti-terrorist front".

Prior to the meeting, Lavrov urged Tillerson to prevent more USA bombings in Syria.

"I believe your visit is rather timely, it provides the necessary opportunities to, as was agreed by the Russian and US presidents, try to clarify in a frank and fair manner the prospects of cooperation on all these issues, primarily on forming a broad anti-terrorist front", Lavrov said.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley delivers remarks at a Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria at U.N. headquarters in New York, April 12, 2017. Trump told Fox Business Network that his strikes were exclusively because Assad used chemical weapons.

Still, Tillerson was greeted frostily in the Russian capital as Lavrov began their meeting Wednesday by demanding to know America's "real intentions".

Beyond Syria, Russia's alleged meddling in the United States presidential election also hovered over what was the first face-to-face encounter between Mr Putin and any Trump administration Cabinet member.

Russian Federation maintains Syrian President Bashar Assad's opposition is responsible for the chemical weapons.

"You will find people in other countries who will choose to take Britain less seriously, who will consider us to be less important, to be less influential, less likely to want to give us a second hearing", he added.

But Russia remains unmoved by the global chorus of outrage, and the U.S. envoy is likely to face a chilly reception whether or not he is allowed to meet Putin.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blasted US claims that it has "irrefutable evidence" of election interference.

"Our big mission is getting rid of ISIS (ISIL)", Trump said.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis said Washington has "no doubt" that Assad was behind the massacre. "Frankly, Putin is backing a person that's truly an evil person". Trump says it's also "very bad for mankind".

Before flying to Moscow, Tillerson issued an ultimatum to Putin: Either side with the US and likeminded countries, or with Assad, Iran and the militant group Hezbollah.

In another possible setback Trump backtracked on comments he made a year ago that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was obsolete but added that member nations must be their share to be part of it.

Two more ministers are planning to make the trip, however: The Russian foreign ministry announced that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and Iran's Mohammad Javad Zarif are due in Moscow later in the week. Putin had even granted Tillerson with a friendship honor.

  • Leroy Wright