Tillerson calls for easing tensions after Putin meeting
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held a hastily arranged meeting in Moscow late Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin as he worked to ease tensions over Syria and other global crises – even as he and President Trump, from afar, continued to pressure Putin over his alliance with Bashar Assad. Tillerson, speaking frankly during a press conference in Moscow alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, said he told Putin that U.S.-Russia relations have hit a “low point.” He stressed the need to improve ties. “There is a low level of trust between our two countries. The world’s two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship,” Tillerson said.
Lavrov, speaking through a translator, also said special envoys would be appointed to discuss the “irritants” that have “piled up” mostly under the Obama administration. Citing the countries’ disagreements, Tillerson said, “We need to attempt to put an end to this steady degradation.”
Both Tillerson and Lavrov cited the goal of defeating ISIS as a common objective. Lavrov also that Putin could restore a military hotline with the U.S. if Washington focuses on fighting the Islamic State and other extremist groups. Tillerson, the first Trump Cabinet official to visit Russia, traveled to Moscow just days after the Trump administration launched missile strikes on the airbase in Syria.
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