US, Russia agree to work on international investigation of Syrian chemical attack

US, Russia agree to work on international investigation of Syrian chemical attack

Speaking at the start of a meeting in Moscow with a USA delegation led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Lavrov said: "We consider it fundamentally important to prevent the risk of recurrence of such events in the future".

Lavrov said after the meeting that both sides agreed that there should be an investigation into the alleged April 4 sarin gas attack on the northern town of Khan Sheikhoun - a strike that killed almost 100 civilians, injured hundreds more and elicited a fierce US retaliatory strike two days later.

Russian Federation has slammed Washington's attack on a Syrian regime airbase and, as Tillerson met Lavrov, Putin admitted that relations have worsened in the three months that Trump has been in office.

Until the chemical attack, the Trump administration had sought to step back from the US position that Assad should leave power. Russia's alleged meddling in the US presidential election also hovered over the first face-to-face encounter between Putin and a Trump administration Cabinet member. He added that Russian Federation hoped to clarify the possibility of dialogue with the U.S. While it is too early to tell where the relationship between the two will evolve, President Trump has clearly benefitted from this tension, as it seems to have checked domestic criticism over links between his administration and Russian Federation.

"More than once, we have reaffirmed our readiness for a constructive and equal dialogue and cooperation based on respect for the legitimate interests of the other", Lavrov said, adding, "This has been our consistent policy that is fully in keeping with global law and does not depend on current trends or a false choice, such as 'you are either with us or against us'".

President Vladimir Putin received Lavrov and Tillerson at the Kremlin Palace, spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters later. He said there was no discussion of withdrawing them. The Russians held to a tentative schedule that was worked out in advance, US officials said. US intelligence agencies have said similar. Until the chemical attack, the Trump administration had sought to step back from the US position that Assad should leave power.

Russia's saber rattling in reaction to a US cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase was to be expected.

At the joint press conference, Lavrov also extensively criticized past USA foreign policy, from Iraq to Yugoslavia.

Rycroft said Russian Federation has a choice of sticking with "the toxic Assad regime that poisons its own people" or seeking peace through negotiations and a political transition.

"We stand ready to work together and I will be talking to my G7 partners in the coming days about how we can continue to strive for a political solution that brings an end to the suffering of the Syrian people".

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The United States slapped Russian Federation with serious financial sanctions after the annexation, but Tillerson said sanctions remain in place for now. The last set of declared Syrian chemical weapons was shipped out of the country for destruction on June 23, 2014. Turkey has said tests showed sarin gas was used.

"Our meetings today come at an important moment in the relationship", Tillerson said as he and Lavrov faced each other at a long conference table, "so that we can further clarify areas of common objectives, areas of common interests, even when our tactical approaches might be different, and to clarify areas of sharp difference, so that we can better understand why these differences exist, and what the prospects for narrowing those differences may be".

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

"So I am dismayed that Russian Federation has once again blocked the UN Security Council and in so doing refused to condemn the use of chemical weapons or support a full UN investigation into the attack".

Hours earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin was equally pessimistic, saying in an interview on Russian television: "The level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved but has rather deteriorated". Washington says it has no doubt about Assad's responsibility.

She told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday: "We are not going to look the other way".

In another possible setback Trump backtracked on comments he made past year that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was obsolete but added that member nations must be their share to be part of it.

"Frankly, Putin is backing a person that's truly an evil person", Trump aid in the Fox Business Network interview, referring to Assad.

Of Assad, Trump added: "This is an animal".

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