NATO 'No Longer Obsolete,' US-Russia Ties At 'All-Time Low'

Russian Federation has suggested the attack may have been the work of rebels or that Syrian planes hit hidden caches of chemical weapons controlled by them.

"Vicious slaughter of innocent civilians with chemical weapons including the barbaric killing of small and helpless children and babies must be forcefully rejected by any nation that values human life", Mr Trump said.

The less-than-positive assessments of relations by both Trump and Tillerson reflected the former Cold War foes' inability to forge greater co-operation, as Trump until recently has advocated.

Tillerson met with Putin in the Kremlin with the primary aim of persuading Moscow to abandon its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organisations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines", Mr Trump said in a statement in January.

The men know each other well from Tillerson's days as Exxon Mobil CEO.

A meeting of the two leaders has not been scheduled so far, even though Moscow has indicated it is willing. - RT.

"We frankly discussed the current state of the U.S. -Russia relations". Tillerson has a meeting set later Wednesday in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. This has built for a long period of time. "No one showed us anything, no one said anything, although we repeatedly asked to produce the details on which these unfounded accusations lie".

Disagreement over Assad's role in the chemical attack remained an area of tension during the press conference.

Still, Tillerson sought to stress the positives from his meetings.

Combination of file photos show Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 29, 2016 and U.S. President DonaldTrump (R) at a press conference at the White House in Washington D.C., the United States, on February 15, 2017. The agreement was suspended after the U.S. launched its first attack on Syria during the country's six-year conflict last week. We're a very, very strong country.

"Clearly our view is that reign of Assad family is coming to an end".

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The Wall Street Journal cited Trump as saying that Assad's use of chemical weapons again would elicit another military response but he also said he would not intervene in depth in the conflict. And he suggested that possible war crimes charges could be levied against the Syrian leader.

Later Wednesday, Russia blocked the U.N. Security Council's draft resolution condemning Syria and calling for it to comply with an investigation.

The civil war is separate from the USA -led effort against the Islamic State group in the north of the country.

A fact-finding mission from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is investigating the attack.

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 United States official said. He says both countries have agreed that their lines of communications must stay open.

Lavrov had greeted Tillerson with unusually icy remarks, denouncing the missile strike on Syria as illegal and accusing Washington of behaving unpredictably.

Lavrov, addressing a news conference, said that Moscow is ready to restore an air safety agreement covering Syria which it had suspended after last week's USA missile strikes on Syria. "We consider it of utmost importance to prevent the risks of replay of similar action in the future".

In an interview with the Fox Business Network, Trump said he was not planning to order USA forces into Syria, but that he had to respond to the images of dead children poisoned in the gas attack. "But we're going to see what happens", Trump told the news conference.

United States military officials said they observed a drone flying over a hospital in Khan Sheikoun that was providing treatment for gas victims.

It was unclear whether Putin, who once gave Tillerson an "Order of Friendship" award, would grant the visiting American an audience in Moscow. "Of course we can not support and will not support these attempts", Lavrov stressed.

Allegations of collusion between Russian officials and Trump campaign associates also have weakened Trump's ability to make concessions to Russia in any agreement, lest he be accused of rewarding bad behavior.

  • Megan Austin