President Trump is saying relations with Russian Federation "may be at an all-time low", just hours after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held a lengthy meeting with President Vladimir Putin, with the two superpowers still not seeing eye to eye on the cause of last week's chemical attacks in Syria or how to deal with dictator Bashar Assad.
Earlier, Tillerson said he had a "productive" meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on Wednesday, despite palpable tension between the US and Russia.
The United States is ready to work towards a diplomatic solution to end the six-year war in Syria, Washington's UN envoy Nikki Haley said on Wedneday.
The toxic gas attack on April 4 prompted the United States to launch missile strikes on a Syrian air base and widened a rift between USA and Russian relations.
Tillerson said the USA has conclusive evidence that the Syrian government planned and executed the chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun that left at least 89 people dead.
It would require the Syrian authorities to provide information about air operations on April 4 when Khan Sheikhoun was attacked, including the names of helicopter squadron commanders, and grant immediate access to air bases. He expressed strong skepticism about a preliminary investigation conducted by the United Nations chemical weapons watchdog, saying that its experts have failed to visit the site and it has remained unclear to Russian Federation where the samples have been taken and how they have been analyzed.
Speaking to reporters, Tillerson reiterated Washington's position that Assad must eventually relinquish power - a position starkly at odds with Russian Federation, which has been bombing rebel-held areas in Syria in support of Assad's forces since September 2015.
Trump is increasing pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to abandon Assad while Tillerson is in Moscow.
However, statements yesterday from top Trump administration officials make me wonder about the second prong of its Syria policy, thus understood.
Could Syria have launched the chemical weapons attack with Russia's advance knowledge? The U.S.is not a serious military player there.
The Moscow news conference came after Putin met Tillerson for the first time since Trump took office. It lasted for about two hours.
When a reporter asked Tillerson whether war crime charges would be raised against Assad for using chemical weapons, Tillerson did not rule out the possibility.
Only weeks ago, it appeared that Trump, who praised Putin throughout the USA election campaign, was poised for a potentially historic rapprochement with Russian Federation. The U.S. and European nations have increased pressure on Putin to sever ties with Assad, so far to no avail.
The civil war is separate from the US -led effort against the Islamic State group in the north of the country.
The two foreign ministers also said they had agreed on creating a "unified, stable Syria" and on the need to defeat Islamic State in the region.
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