US and Russia at 'low point' after no breakthrough in Moscow

Assad's first interview after chemical attack

Assad's first interview after chemical attack

Russian Federation and the USA share the goal of defeating Islamic State in Syria, which is a much greater threat to global security than the Assad regime, he said. "I think it's very bad for Russian Federation. But it doesn't have to be this way".

-Russian relations - which echoed a similar assessment made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hours earlier in Moscow - came Wednesday after a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House.

Ten countries voted in favour of the text, while Bolivia joined Russian Federation in voting no.

Syria denied any use of chemical weapons and Moscow said the deaths had been the result of a conventional strike hitting a rebel arms depot containing "toxic substances". Images and videos from the attack showed victims with symptoms consistent with a chemical weapons attack, and Turkish officials have said sarin gas was found in the systems of those killed. "We want Russian Federation to use its influence over the Assad regime to stop the madness and the cruelty we see every day on the ground".

Russia's hopes for a thaw in Russia-US ties following Mr Trump's election have been shattered by the congressional investigation into alleged ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia.

Echoing the Russian stance on cooperation, Tillerson said that Russia and the US will continue discussions about how to find a solution to the Syrian conflict. "The world's two primary nuclear powers can not have this kind of relationship".

"We have seen very alarming actions recently with an unlawful attack against Syria", Mr Lavrov said, referring to the Tomahawk missiles Mr Trump launched at a Syrian air base to punish Assad for using chemical weapons. "I think it's probably unlikely", he said. Russia, which backs Assad's regime, has claimed he is not responsible.

North Korea test-fires missile into sea ahead of Trump-Xi summit
Most of North Korea's missiles use liquid propellant, which usually must be added on the launch pad before the weapon is fired. The missile could cover a full range of targets in North Korea if deployed from the southeastern city of Pohang.

According to the report, the official underlined that the USA did not know in advance that the attack was going to take place. "It's one that we know is serious enough to attract additional sanctions", Tillerson said.

There were only a handful of issues Tillerson and Lavrov said they broadly agreed on - that the Korean Peninsula should be denuclearized, that Syria should be "unified and stable" after the Islamic State is defeated, and that there should be more communication between US and Russian diplomats and militaries.

Putin offered one olive branch during his meeting with Tillerson, saying he's ready to restore an accord with the U.S.to avoid conflicts between their militaries in the skies over Syria, according to Lavrov.

Lavrov blasted US claims that it has "irrefutable evidence" of election interference.

This policy didn't last long: "The Trump administration on Wednesday will lift the hiring freeze that it had imposed on the federal work force, even as it directs agencies to submit plans for personnel cuts and other restructuring moves to fit the budget blueprint released by President Trump last month". Washington says it has no doubt about Assad's responsibility.

Mr Peskov said in a conference call with reporters that President Putin's meeting with Mr Tillerson reflected the "understanding of the need to maintain a dialogue to search for solutions". Mr. Tillerson's suggestion that the Assad family dynasty was coming to an end in Syria was met with Mr. Lavrov's contention that hastily removing the Syrian leader would clear the way for the Islamic State group or al-Qaeda to seize control.

The decision by the United States to strike Assad's air base broke with its stated mission under Operation Inherent Resolve that USA and coalition forces are only in Syria to defeat the Islamic State there.

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