Published: Thu, April 13, 2017
U.S. | By Monique Johnson

Tillerson, Putin meet in the Kremlin

Tillerson, Putin meet in the Kremlin

The post Trump says USA not going to get involved in Syria appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Moscow and Washington are trying to figure each other out during the first visit by a senior member of Donald Trump's administration to Russian Federation.

The agenda for the meeting wasn't announced.

President Donald Trump is appearing to rule out deeper American military intervention in Syria beyond retaliatory strikes if Syrian President Bashar Assad continues his assault on civilians with chemical weapons.

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.

Earlier Wednesday, Russia's top diplomat accused the United States of carrying out an unlawful attack against Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces.

Russian Federation said rebels dispersed whatever chemical agent was found, which the Trump administration calls a disinformation campaign.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says relations between Moscow and Washington are "at a low point" and marked by serious distrust.

Lavrov, meanwhile, said that "the future of Syria has to be determined by the Syrians themselves", echoing a statement Tillerson himself made only days before the chemical attack.

"The world's two foremost nuclear powers can not have this kind of relationship", Tillerson said.

"We can start by working together to de-escalate the conflict", Haley said. Russia's alleged meddling in the USA presidential election also hovered over the first face-to-face encounter between Putin and a Trump administration Cabinet member.

The UK ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday his country has evidence that Syria used sarin gas on its own people last week. He called Assad a "butcher" and a "barbarian" during the Post interview, but he said the strike was not the start of a US effort to oust Assad.

President Trump then mistakenly said: "So what happens is I said, 'We have just launched 59 missiles, heading to Iraq.'" He was corrected by interviewer Maria Bartiromo, at which point Trump corrected himself, saying: "Yes heading toward Syria".

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

Only weeks ago, it appeared that Trump, who lavishly praised Putin throughout the campaign, was poised for a potentially historic rapprochement with Russian Federation. Syria's government and rebels exchanged some 30 prisoners and nine bodies, part of a larger agreement to evacuate four besieged areas in different parts of the country, activists and officials said Wednesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that the United States and Russian relationship has "degraded" after President Donald Trump took office.

If Russia or Syria were to use their military assets to fend off any future US strike, it may put Moscow and Washington on the brink of a head-on confrontation, and the Kremlin's decision to cut the crucial communications link between the militaries could make matters worse. Trump says it's also "very bad for mankind".

He added that "we will vote against it if our partners do not heed our calls and promote this draft artificially with the sole objective of making the Russian Federation veto it again".

Asked about Putin possibly skipping a meeting with Tillerson, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, "There is a bit of irony that for all of these talks that have been perpetuated about back channels and direct links, that now it's they won't meet with you".

Not long before Trump spoke in Washington, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson struck a similar tone after an nearly two-hour meeting with Putin, saying the two countries had reached a "low point" in relations.

The Trump administration concluded that Assad was behind the act, and on Thursday ordered a cruise missile strike against a Syrian airbase as a "proportional response". Russian Federation has insisted that the victims were killed by toxic agents from a rebel chemical arsenal hit by Syrian warplanes.

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