Putin, Tillerson discuss bad state of US-Russian ties, Kremlin says

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russian President Vladimir Putin and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson agreed on the need to keep open lines of communication between Moscow and Washington DC.

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

Russian President Vladimir Putin leads a meeting with members of the government on April 12, 2017, in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin used a meeting with visiting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday to give his views on why US-Russian relations have reached such a low point, a Kremlin spokesperson said.

Dmitry Peskov on Thursday said that the tone of the meeting had been "fairly constructive." He said Russia's hope was that Putin's message would be passed on to US President Donald Trump.

He said the two sides agreed on the need to keep open lines of communication between Moscow and Washington.

Peskov also said Putin had given Tillerson his views on the situation in Syria, and how it was likely to develop.

Earlier on Wednesday, after holding talks with the US secretary of state, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said some progress had been made on Syria, and a working group would be set up to examine the poor state of US-Russia ties.

Lavrov, addressing a news conference, said that Moscow is ready to restore an air safety agreement covering Syria which it had suspended after last week's US missile strikes on Syria.

US-Russia relations are at another low after a chemical attack in Syria killed more than 80 people and wounded at least 550 others last week. 

The United States responded to the gas attack by firing 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base. Washington warned Moscow, and Russian troops at the base were not hit.

Moscow has stood by Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad, saying the poison gas belonged to rebels, an explanation Washington dismisses as beyond credible.

Russia blocked a Western effort at the UN Security Council on Wednesday to condemn the gas attack and push Assad to cooperate with international inquiries into the incident.

Moscow and Washington had also agreed to continue cooperating to try to find a political solution for Syria, he said.

Trump had frequently called during the 2016 US presidential election campaign for warmer ties with Putin, despite criticism from lawmakers in his own Republican Party.

But the civil war in Syria has driven a wedge between Moscow and Washington, upending what many in Russia hoped would be a transformation in relations, which reached a post-Cold War low under Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama.

TRTWorld and agencies