USA officials have issued a four-page document summarizing evidence debunking Russian claims that Syrian jets struck a chemical weapons depot controlled by rebels.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as both countries stepped up their tough talking on the crisis in Syria.
In a blatant response to the alleged chemical attack, the US launched dozens of Tomahawk to destroy the Shayrat airfield in Syria, believed by Washington be the base for warplanes that carried out the chemical attack on a rebel-held town on Tuesday. Later, Tillerson met with Putin, which was also a tense interaction.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley criticized Russian Federation for denying the UN-led investigation and blocking a resolution that would have helped promote peace in Syria.
The news comes after Tillerson faced an unusually chilly reception in Moscow.
Washington blames Russia’s ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Moscow said Syrian rebels are responsible. Trump said it was “certainly possible” though “probably unlikely”.
On Thursday, a Kremlin spokesman said the discussions between Mr Tillerson and Mr Putin had been “fairly constructive”, and that the president used the meeting to explain why ties were at such a low point – while they had agreed to keep lines of communication open.
“There is a low level of trust between our two countries”, Tillerson said.
“We have seen very alarming actions recently with an unlawful attack against Syria”, Mr Lavrov said, referring to the Tomahawk missiles Mr Trump launched at a Syrian air base to punish Assad for using chemical weapons.
At their bilateral press conference, Tillerson left open the possibility that the USA might move to charge Assad with war crimes, although he said sufficient evidence to formally level such an accusation had not yet been amassed.
Mr Lavrov also disputed the USA claim that the Syrian government was behind the chemical attacks on the town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4th, stating that Russian Federation had “no confirmation” chemical attacks had taken place and was calling for an independent investigation. Putin had even honored Tillerson with a friendship award.
Tillerson met President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for discussions that were meant to tackle, primarily, the fight against Daesh and safe zones, but that were consumed by the chemical attack in Syria.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov blasted United States claims that it has “irrefutable evidence” of election interference.
The U.S. attack raised tensions between Moscow and Washington. He said, “we’re not going into Syria”, but said pressure will be on Russian Federation to ensure peace. We have stated our position on many occasions.
Despite remarks by both diplomats that their nations have many common interests, Lavrov rehashed an extended list of Russian grievances, from NATO’s actions in Kosovo in 1999 to US attempts to remove dictators from Sudan to Libya.
He called Assad a “butcher” for his treatment of the Syrian people. “And I think it’s very bad for Russian Federation”, he said in and interview with Maria Bartiromo airing today on Fox Business Network. Trump says it’s also “very bad for mankind”.