Trump on Assad: 'That's a butcher'

Strongman regimes the better of two bad options in Middle East

But the two nations remain at odds over US airstrikes on Syria - following last week's chemical attack on Syrian civilians.

Tillerson has indicated he will be pressing Russian Federation on its alliance with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and whether it's a relationship that in the long term will serve Russia's interests.

Trump is increasing pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to abandon Assad just as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is visiting Moscow.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Russia vetoed a Western-backed U.N. resolution Wednesday that would have condemned the reported use of chemical weapons in a town in northern Syria and demanded a speedy investigation into the attack that killed almost 90 people. We may be an all-time low in terms of relationship with Russian Federation.

Tillerson said last week the Russians were "complicit or simply incompetent". Russia's alleged meddling in the USA presidential election also hovered over the first face-to-face encounter between Putin and a Trump administration Cabinet member.

Despite hopes of an improvement in ties under Trump, the Tillerson-Lavrov talks look set to be dominated by the war of words over Syria - where more than 320,000 people have died in six years of brutal war. "The world's two foremost nuclear powers can not have this kind of relationship", he said in the news conference, adding that Moscow and Washington had agreed to establish a working group to identify problems and improve bilateral relations. Lavrov also said Moscow was ready to revive an air safety agreement in Syria.

"What we do know- and we have very firm and high confidence in our conclusions- that the attack was carried out and planned by the regime forces at the direction of al-Assad", Tillerson said. Putin had even honoured Tillerson with a friendship award.




However, Putin appears to have found time to meet with the former recipient of Russia's Order of Friendship, who reportedly ditched his press pool to catch up with Putin.

For more on U.S. -Russia relationship and NATO, CGTN's Mike Walter spoke with Ivan Eland, senior fellow and director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute.

Relations between the United States and Russian Federation have hit a low point and should be improved, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during a trip to Moscow Wednesday. "If you have any examples I'd be glad if you could share them with me". "We believe it is of principal importance to prevent risks of a repeat of such steps in the future".

"We have seen very alarming actions recently with an unlawful attack against Syria", Lavrov said, referring to the 59 Tomahawk missiles Trump launched at an air base to punish Assad for using chemical weapons. But in a Fox Business Network interview, the U.S. president said he wouldn't intervene militarily against Assad unless the Syrian leader resorts to using weapons of mass destruction again.

Tillerson and Lavrov also "briefly" discussed Russian attempts to meddle in the USA presidential election.

Tillerson avoided giving specific details of how Assad would leave power, saying, "We leave that to the process going forward". "And so we are mindful of the seriousness of that particular interference in our elections, and I'm sure that Russian Federation is mindful of it as well", Tillerson said. "I would like to think that they didn't know, but certainly they could have".

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