Giving Tillerson a chilly reception, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia was trying to understand the "real intentions" of the Trump administration.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson echoed that comment after meetings with Russian leaders in Moscow, saying that relations are at a low point with a low level of trust.
- Even as Tillerson, Putin and Lavrov discussed their differences in Moscow - a fresh storm broke at the United Nations Security Council in NY.
Russian Federation blocked a Western effort at the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to condemn the gas attack and push Assad to cooperate with global inquiries into the incident. But Tillerson repeated the administration's new belief that "the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end". "They have again brought this on themselves with their conduct of the war of these past few years".
A U.S. State Department official, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations, said Tillerson's plan all along was to lay out the U.S. position with Russian Federation and give officials plenty of time to think about it.
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"We do think it's important that Assad's departure is done in an orderly way ... so that certain interests and constituencies that he represents feel they have been represented at the negotiating table for a political solution", the former Texas oil executive said. "How that occurs, we leave that to the process going forward".
Tillerson said in the news conference. "We do not think the world will accept that".
US President Donald Trump offered an olive branch to Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, even as Washington and Moscow clashed over Russia's alleged US election interference and Syria's brutal conflict.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Moscow on Wednesday as the two countries traded sharp accusations about a chemical weapons attack in Syria.
Trump called the attack the crossing of a "red line", but members of the Security Council who opposed the missile strike said the United States may have jumped the gun in acting unilaterally and that the resolution assumes Syria's culpability before the facts are established. "I think it's very bad for Russian Federation".
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What does he do?" Mr Trump initially said the missiles were heading towards Iraq but corrected himself when prompted by the interviewer.
Russian Federation vetoed a United Nations resolution condemning the killings, believed to have been carried out with sarin gas, and calling on Moscow ally Syria to cooperate with an global investigation of events on the ground. But he also confirmed that Russian Federation had reestablished an agreement to deconflict operations in Syria, after suspending cooperation in the wake of the American strike. "The media hysteria which was unleashed as a result of this incident - we have to make sure that we are impartial now in investigating this whole business by sending worldwide expert groups to the site".
The resolution was brought by the so-called P3 - the U.S., U.K., and France.
"There is a low level of trust between our two countries", Tillerson said candidly. "The world's two foremost nuclear powers can not have this kind of relationship".
"The outcome was pre-determined because we have consistently expressed our categorical disagreement with the content of the document", he said.
Then-Secretary of State John Kerry, on July 20, 2014: "We got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out (of Syria)". But any such expectations have crashed into reality amid the nasty back-and-forth over Syria and ongoing US investigations into Russia's alleged interference in America's USA presidential election. "And it was very, very successfully done, as you well know", he said.
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Russia, Assad's staunchest ally, has insisted the Syrian leader is blameless and that rebels disbursed chemical weapons. Ten other countries voted for the resolution, and Bolivia joined Russian Federation in voting against it.
Russian Federation is "engaged in a very sophisticated propaganda and disinformation campaign to allow the Assad campaign to escape responsibility for these heinous acts", but it now has a "tremendous opportunity" to play a constructive role, a senior United States administration official, speaking not for attribution, told journalists April 12.