Russian Federation accuses U.S. of unlawful Syria raid as Tillerson visits
It's hard to imagine how Russian Federation and the US could agree on Syria after President Donald Trump called Assad "an animal" over the deadly chemical attack, while Moscow has insisted on the Syrian leader's innocence. It sees Russian Federation attempting to undermine North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union unity, supporting violent separatist insurgencies in Georgia and Ukraine, and propping up a leader in Syrian President Bashar Assad who is responsible for a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.
On whether Russian Federation had prior knowledge about Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons, Donald Trump said it is "possible" but "unlikely" that Russian Federation had known in advance of Syria's plan to launch a chemical weapons attack on its own citizens.
He said "we may be at an all-time low in terms of our relationship with Russia", but said it would be "a fantastic thing" if the relationship could improve with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson turned out to be frank and extensive, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following their meeting, TASS reports. "And it was very, very successfully done", the US President said at a joint press conference with visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House.
The U.S. military official said the Pentagon was examining specifically whether a Russian warplane had bombed a hospital in Khan Sheikhoun five hours after the initial chemical attack, with the aim of destroying evidence. Lavrov and Tillerson's talks are expected to focus on Syria and allegations that Russian Federation interfered in USA elections. Until the chemical attack, the Trump administration had sought to step back from the USA position that Assad should leave power.
Al-Jaafari added that the use of chemical weapons targets the Syrian people who are still the first victims of crimes perpetrated by armed terrorist groups which did not hesitate to use chemical weapons against them, stressing Syria's determination to know the real criminal responsible for committing the attack.
'Our view is that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end and they have brought that on themselves with their conduct, ' the top USA diplomat said.
Indeed, Assad did not have a clear motive to order the attack.
Still, Tillerson sought to stress the positives from his meetings.
The Russian and Syrian governments have both denied involvement in the chemical attack.
Lavrov, who was co-hosting the April 12 press conference in Moscow, said progress had been made on Syria and a working group would be established to improve communication between the USA and Russia, Reuters reported.
The tense negotiations with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov come at a time when the USA and Russian Federation have traded blame over chemical attacks in Syria, which has entered its seventh year of war. "No", Trump said. But, he added, "I see them using gas. we have to do something".
But such hopes appeared optimistic as the diplomats outlined their sharply diverging views on Syria. Trump appears to have embraced the fact that, like it or not, the USA can no longer "lead from behind".
"We will keep monitoring the issue, since the only possible reason for using military force on the territory of Syria is to fight terrorism", Lavrov said.