No positive shift yet on Russia-US ties, Kremlin says

President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that U.S. -Russia ties "may be at an all-time low", and Tillerson struck a similar tone after a day of talks in Moscow.

Even as he took a harsher tone on the longtime USA adversary, Trump still seemed to offer some reassurance in a Wednesday appearance with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, saying that, "It would be wonderful. if NATO and our country could get along with Russian Federation".

Putin did not say whom he thought was behind the planned attacks, but he made the comments in response to a question on the likelihood of further U.S. military strikes against Syria.

Tillerson noted the low level of trust between the two countries.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says government troops and allied forces have already entered Madaya, one of the opposition-held towns evacuated of rebels.

The immediate dispute between Moscow and Washington involves how the April 4 chemical weapons attack in Syria occurred.

"I just don't get a good feeling that whatever we're doing has been thoroughly thought out and there's some kind of a plan", said New York Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. With some American incentives, China would more than likely take whatever steps necessary to tame North Korea and prevent any confrontation between the United States and North Korea that could precipitate regional upheaval that China wants to avoid at any price. It has conducted an air campaign in Syria since September 2015, saving Assad's government from imminent collapse and helping to reverse the Syrian military's fortunes.

But Trump has not said if this was a topic at their meeting last week. The world's two biggest nuclear powers are at odds over multiple issues, including Moscow's continued support for rebels in eastern Ukraine battling the Kyiv government, and the USA intelligence community's declaration that computer hackers acting on orders from the Kremlin interfered in last year's US presidential election.

The men know each other well from Tillerson's days as Exxon Mobil CEO. The Russian president once gave the then-CEO the Kremlin's Order of Friendship award, but the climate has cooled considerably since then.

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It was the first meeting for Trump and Stoltenberg since Trump's election. "How do you know that?" he said.

During his campaign, Trump said he was open to cooperating with Russian Federation on Syria and that removing Assad was not a priority.

Putin has angrily rejected the accusations against Damascus and slammed the U.S. bombing as "a violation of global law".

But he added, "I strongly believe that the only way to deter Russian Federation is to be strong".

MOSCOW (AP) - President Vladimir Putin's meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hasn't produced any positive shift yet in Russia-U.S. relations, the Kremlin said Thursday. The FBI is probing whether Trump's staff engaged in criminal collusion with Russian officials to boost Trump's election chances.

The US military and intelligence community has intercepted communications featuring Syrian military and chemical experts talking about preparations for the sarin attack in Idlib last week, a senior US official tells CNN. "So we have to find ways to manage our relationship with Russian Federation", he said.

The dim view of US-Russian ties from both Trump and Tillerson reflected the former Cold War foes' inability to forge better relations, as Trump until recently has advocated.

He said working groups would be established to improve U.S. "We have never used our chemical arsenal in our history".

"Our policy is consistent and it's formulated exclusively on the basis of worldwide law and not under the impact of current opportunistic motives or false choice: 'You are with us or against us, '" Lavrov told Tillerson. "That is an obvious fact". He was referring to widespread vacancies throughout the top State Department leadership that has fueled a perception in the USA that Tillerson and his agency are being sidelined by Trump. "I think it's very bad for mankind".

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