Syria and North Korea are two main subjects of today’s talks between U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, as the diplomats try to repair a relationship that President Vladimir Putin says has only worsened in recent months.
Tillerson has demanded that Russia ends its support of the Syrian regime following the April 4 chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Shaykhun. The U.S. says Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government carried out the attack, and it accuses Russia of trying to deflect blame from Assad.
Secretary Tillerson before meeting with FM Lavrov: Looking forward to an open exchange to better define the U.S.-Russia relationship. pic.twitter.com/pcWRIhyvnl
— Department of State (@StateDept) April 12, 2017
US Tomahawk strikes on Syrian Military Bases
Days after that attack, President Trump ordered a cruise missile strike that targeted a Syrian air base — a strike that Russia says violated international law. Moscow has accused the U.S. of using the chemical weapons attack as a pretext for hitting the Syrian base with Tomahawk missiles.
Most recently, we saw rather alarming steps, when an unlawful attack against Syria was carried out,” Lavrov said, according to state-run TASS media. “Russia’s leadership has already voiced its principal assessments in this respect. We believe it is of principal importance to prevent risks of a repeat of such steps in the future.” Lavrov added.
Kremlin’s Stance on Asaad
The Kremlin argues Assad gave up his chemical weapons stores under a 2013 agreement Moscow brokered with the Obama administration; Tillerson has accused Russia of ‘incompetence’ in failing to enforce that deal.
The Interfax news agency quotes Putin as saying that the relationship between Russia and the U.S. has deteriorated rather than improved under President Trump’s administration.