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Russian relations 'may be at an all-time low'

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump said his administration's policy was not to demand Assad step down as part of a "peaceful resolution to the conflict", in some contrast to Tillerson's remarks in Moscow.

A USA defense official says intelligence shows a Russian drone flew over the hospital in Idlib that was treating victims of the chemical attack, prior to the site being later bombed by an unknown aircraft.

U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking at an event in the White House, said he was not surprised by China's abstention. "We consider it of utmost importance to prevent the risks of replay of similar action in the future". On that note, the US secretary of state arrived in Moscow as part of the first official high-level visit by a USA official under the Trump administration to meet with his Russian counterpart.

The news comes after Tillerson faced an unusually chilly reception in Moscow.

It was an ominous start to Tillerson's visit - the first to Russian Federation by a Trump Cabinet official.

The less-than-positive assessments of relations by both Trump and Tillerson reflected the former Cold War foes' inability to forge greater cooperation, as Trump until recently has advocated.

Only weeks ago, it appeared that Trump, who praised Putin throughout the USA election campaign, was poised for a potentially historic rapprochement with Russian Federation.

However, the Syrian nerve gas attack blamed on Russia's ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, and the retaliatory U.S. missile attack against Syria has sent U.S. -Russia ties to rock bottom. "Frankly, Putin is backing a person that's truly an evil person", Mr Trump told the Fox Business Network, referring to Mr Assad.

"We know they have the expertise. I suggest you look at this vote very carefully and heed this warning", she added.

As Tillerson sat down for talks with Lavrov on Wednesday, a volley of statements, including from a senior Russian official, appeared timed to maximize the awkwardness during the first visit to Moscow by a member of Trump's cabinet.

Russia's Safronkov called the US strikes on a Syrian air base in retaliation for the Khan Sheikhoun a provocation, but Delattre said they were "a legitimate response to a mass crime which could not go unpunished".

"The level of trust at the working level, especially at the military level, has not become better but most likely has degraded", Putin said in an interview broadcast Wednesday by state television channel Mir. Putin had even honored Tillerson with a friendship award.

However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said, 'That is not true, ' when CNN asked about USA allegations that Russian Federation may be complicit.

Russian Federation has criticized previous investigations carried out by the OPCW and the United Nations which blamed the Syrian government for at least three chemical weapons attacks without visiting the sites.

Intelligence services from several Western countries dispute that claim.

France's U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said "with this attack, the Syrian regime has plumbed new depths of horror".

Russia's deputy United Nations envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, said the draft resolution laid blame prior to an independent investigation.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov told the council before the vote that during talks in Moscow Russia asked for an independent worldwide investigation to examine the April 4 attack on Khan Sheikhoun.

But Russia made clear it had no intention to acquiesce.

If the evacuations are completed, they would be the first in number of rounds stretching over two months to evacuate some 30,000 Syrians from besieged areas, in a deal struck by rebels and the government.

"Our policy is consistent and it's formulated exclusively on the basis of global law and not under the impact of current opportunistic motives or false choice: 'You are with us or against us, '" Lavrov told Tillerson.

Reacting to the US strike Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Washington had carried out an "unjust and unabashed assault" against Syria which 'shows nothing but short-sightedness, a narrowness of vision and blindness to political and military realities'. "Such attempts won't succeed", Lavrov said. Until the chemical attack, the Trump administration had sought to step back from the US position that Assad should leave power. "The president outlined our vision of the current situation and the prospects of developing this situation", he said.

Russian Federation said the U.S., United Kingdom and France, who backed the resolution, rushed to judgment.

Secretary of state Rex Tillerson held a tense, four hour meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.

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