Putin meets Tillerson as US, Russia wrangle over Syria

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"Frankly, Putin is backing a person that's truly an evil person", Trump told the Fox Business Network, referring to Assad.

Tillerson said he wanted "a very open, candid and frank exchange" with Lavrov.

He said "it would be a fantastic thing" if the two nations got along better but cautioned that "it may be just the opposite". Early expectations of an easy rapport between the Trump administration and Russian Federation have crashed into reality as the two countries have traded escalating accusations over what happened last week in a chemical attack in Syria. They said that they were confident that terrorists do not have access to sarin.

But also, the USA feels right now that it has made the case that Russian support for Assad must end.

Lavrov seemed to speculate that any interference might have been the work of people looking to disturb the U.S. -Russia relationship.

Tillerson met with Russian President Vladimir Putin for two hours at the Kremlin, describing it as "productive".

The men know each other well from Tillerson's days as Exxon Mobil CEO. Putin had even honored Tillerson with a friendship award. President Trump put it more bluntly. "We have already seen all of this".

"We know they have the expertise".

"It's deplorable, and we regret what is going on, but we can do little except asking to back accusations with facts", Mr Lavrov said.

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He also rejected American claims of certain evidence that Assad ordered the chemical attack.

Asked if the meeting at the Kremlin marked any positive change, Mr Peskov said: "Too early yet". -Russian ties and identify problems.

"There is a low level of trust between our two countries", Mr Tillerson said.

But such hopes appeared optimistic as the diplomats outlined their sharply diverging views on Syria.

Putin accused Assad's opponents of planning to stage chemical attacks to be blamed on Damascus in order to lure the United States deeper into the conflict.

"It is clear to us the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end", Tillerson told reporters in Italy.

Tillerson says the United State is confident in its assessment that Syria used chemical weapons in a bombing last week and alleged that Syria has used such weapons more than 50 times in the past.

The text also condemned the reported use of chemical weapons and demanded a speedy investigation.

NPR's Lucian Kim reports that Lavrov went into talks "warning that the USA not repeat strikes against Syrian government forces".

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However, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, did not let up on the criticism of Moscow.

But even if there is a definitive finding of Russian complicity, it's not clear the Pentagon or the White House would make that information public, a senior U.S. official said. "And we agree we want to deny a safe haven for terrorists who want to attack both of our countries".

Tillerson and Lavrov are expected to hold a news conference that begins soon.

Syria's government has denied responsibility for the attack, which prompted a US strike on a Syrian air base.Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said Syria had sent dozens of letters to the Security Council, some detailing "the smuggling of sarin from Libya through Turkey on a civilian air plane by using a Syrian citizen."Two litres of sarin were transported from Libya through Turkey to terrorist groups in Syria", he said, adding that the government does "not have these weapons". We believe it is of principal importance to prevent risks of a repeat of such steps in the future".

Trump and others have indeed threatened similar action. "I think it's very bad for Russian Federation".

"I have personally reviewed the intelligence, and there is no doubt the Syrian regime is responsible for the decision to attack and for the attack itself", Defense Secretary James Mattis said Tuesday.

And Putin, who US intelligence agencies say tried to help Trump get elected, insisted that relations with the USA had only gone downhill since Trump took office in January.

Even so, America's top diplomat is hoping to salvage ties between the US and Russian Federation.

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