Russia blocks UN Security Council condemnation of Syria attack

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday (April 12) that trust had eroded between the United States and Russia under President Donald Trump as Moscow delivered an unusually hostile reception to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a face-off over Syria.

Tillerson, who came into the meeting after a almost two-hour face-to-face meeting with Putin himself, called on Bashar al-Assad, Russia's ally in Syria, to step down.

"Right now we're not getting along with Russian Federation at all", Mr Trump said flatly during a White House news conference with Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Moscow has strenuously objected to Trump's decision to launch 59 U.S. Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base that the U.S. says was used to pummel civilians with nerve gas, killing more than 80 people.

Allegations of collusion between Russian officials and Trump campaign associates also have weakened Trump's ability to sweeten any offer for greater cooperation, such as by easing economic sanctions on Moscow related to its 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Staffan de Mistura told the U.N. Security Council Wednesday that he is ready to hold a new round of talks between the government and opposition in May but some things should be sorted out first.

The news conference came after Russian President Vladimir Putin met the top American diplomat for nearly two hours to see if they could rescue relations between the world's mightiest military powers.

Lavrov said he had a "frank" talk with Tillerson.

It is the eighth time during Syria's six-year war that Moscow has shielded ally President Bashar-al Assad.

Islamic State loses three quarters of territory it once controlled in Iraq
Over 200 civilians, including women and children were killed in Mosul bu US-led airstrkes. It also holds the city of Raqa and other areas in neighboring Syria.

"Frankly, Putin is backing a person that is truly an evil person", Trump said. He tells Fox Business Network that Putin's support for Assad is "very bad for Russian Federation". Tillerson said in a news conference Wednesday that U.S. -Russia relations are at a "low point" and need to improve.

Britain's U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft accused Russian Federation of siding with "a murderous, barbaric criminal, rather than with their global peers".

Mr Tillerson also alleged the Syrian regime has used weapons such as chlorine bombs more than 50 times in the past. He said that last week's reported chemical weapons attack, the subsequent airstrikes by the United States and intensified fighting on the ground have put the fragile peace process is in "grave danger".

"Our policy is consistent and it's formulated exclusively on the basis of global law and not under the impact of current opportunistic motives or false choice: 'You are with us or against us, "' Lavrov told Tillerson. The two leaders were expected to discuss disagreement about whether Syrian President Bashar Assad or his opposition was responsible for a chemical weapons attack last week that led to USA retaliatory cruise missiles.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's sudden about-face on the Syrian gas attack last week had politics and appeasing the Americans written all over it, an expert in Middle Eastern policy says.

Haley said the USA "takes no pleasure to see Russian Federation isolated on the Security Council". "No one showed us anything, no one said anything, although we repeatedly asked to produce the details on which these unfounded accusations lie".

"Earlier in the day, rebel gunmen fired on the buses waiting to enter the two pro-government towns in Idlib province, Syrian media reported".

In his opening remarks, Lavrov also took a subtle dig at the Trump administration, saying it was hard to get clarity on USA stances since there are so many vacancies in top positions at the State Department.

Trump's relations with Russian Federation are also a domestic issue, as United States intelligence agencies have accused Moscow of using computer hacking to intervene in the election to help Trump win. "Are we going to get involved with Syria?"

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