Tillerson, Lavrov open tense meeting; Putin repeats assertion on chemical weapons

He reiterated the USA position that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must eventually relinquish power in Syria, a position starkly at odds with Russian Federation.

Our chief foreign affairs correspondent, Margaret Warner, has our report.

Tillerson also held what he called a "productive" two-hour long meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Tillerson says he wants to understand why U.S. -Russia differences exist. "There is a low level of trust between our two countries".

"The world's two foremost nuclear powers can not have this type of relationship", Mr Tillerson warned.

The US responded to the alleged chemical attack with a missile strike on the Shayrat air base in Syria, the first military action by the US against the Assad regime.

"It's really pitiful to hear such irresponsible and provocative statements from the most important leader in the Western world", Ja'afari said.

Mr Tillerson said there was "a low level of trust" between both countries and such a relationship could not be allowed to continue between the world's foremost nuclear powers. There were no signs that would support the statement, the allegation that chemical agents were used there at all.

Mr Tillerson also said that the Trump administration's position was clear: Bashar al Assad has to relinquish the presidency. "I do not know who saw them".

"With all the existing problems, both objective and artificially created ones, we still have quite a few prospects for joint work".

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The two sides spoke of the low-level of trust between them and the USA, noting it's an unacceptable state of strain between the world's two biggest nuclear powers.

Russian Federation has blocked a draft resolution at the United Nations condemning last week's toxic gas attack in Syria.

The chill in Moscow today was a far cry from the atmosphere a year ago. That all changed with last week's gas attack and President Trump's quick response. The two men outlined varying visions for the future of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, as well as an array of other worldwide issues, but both pledged to work on improving relations between their respective nations. But in a Fox Business Network interview, the US president said he wouldn't intervene militarily against Assad unless the Syrian leader resorts to using weapons of mass destruction again.

US President Donald Trump told allies on Wednesday it was time to end Syria's "brutal" civil war. Frankly, Putin is backing a person that's truly an evil person. "I think it's very bad for Russian Federation. I think it's very bad for mankind".

The Kremlin had previously declined to confirm Putin would meet Tillerson, reflecting the renewed tensions. "We may be at an all-time low in terms of relationship with Russian Federation".

His comments came moments before President Donald Trump said relations with Russian Federation had reached a "all-time low".

"We have not seen a single fact, or even a hint of facts", he said.

Putin told state-run Mir television that relations between Moscow and Washington have deteriorated in the early months of Trump's presidency. He says that makes it hard to have clarity about US positions.

"This fixation on trying to oust this or that dictator, an authoritarian or totalitarian leader, is well known to us, and we know how it ends", Lavrov said.

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