Russia blocks UN Security Council condemnation of Syria attack

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson enter a hall during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, April 12, 2017.

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

Presidents change and lawmakers come and go, but The Washington Times is always here, and FREE online. He said "it would be a fantastic thing" if the two nations got along better but cautioned that "it may be just the opposite". "The U.S. would have to take the field itself, and risk direct confrontation with the Russians and Iranians-highly unlikely", he said.

Tillerson and Lavrov are expected to hold a news conference that begins soon. Tillerson conceded the two world powers had "sharp differences" that have obstructed cooperation but voiced optimism that their talks could narrow those differences.

Combination of file photos show Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 29, 2016 and U.S. President DonaldTrump (R) at a press conference at the White House in Washington D.C., the United States, on February 15, 2017.

Lavrov blasted USA claims that it has "irrefutable evidence" of election interference. Moscow hasn't seen "a single fact, or even a hint at facts" confirming that the Russians interfered, he said. "Many of these actions were in violation of the Geneva convention", Lavrov said.

Putin also claimed Syria - its largest ally in the Middle East - had complied with an agreement to dispose of chemical weapons "so far as we know".

Tillerson and Lavrov are meeting in Moscow amid rising tensions over Syria. -Russian ties and identify problems.

Tillerson, who came into the meeting after a almost two-hour face-to-face meeting with Putin himself, called on Bashar al-Assad, Russia's ally in Syria, to step down. Until the chemical attack, the Trump administration had sought to step back from the USA position that Assad should leave power.

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"Clearly, our view is that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end", Tillerson said.

But Mr Lavrov said Moscow and Washington have agreed to continue cooperating to try to find a political solution for Syria. And he suggested that possible war crimes charges could be levied against the Syrian leader. "This time Russian Federation did not employ any of the military defenses it has in Syria, but it will probably have no choice if such attacks continue".

The civil war is separate from the US -led effort against the Islamic State group in the north of the country.

Can Russia abandon Assad? Though the Kremlin had declined to say whether the leaders would meet, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday: "There is a certain likelihood".

Putin, in excerpts of an interview to be broadcast in full on Russian television later Wednesday, argued that there is no proof Assad's forces carried out the attack and called the USA strikes a breach of worldwide law.

Trump and others have indeed threatened similar action. "And I think it's very bad for Russian Federation", he said in and interview with Maria Bartiromo airing today on Fox Business Network.

"We're not going into Syria", he said in excerpts of the interview on the station's website. Both Washington and Moscow say their main enemy is Islamic State, although they back opposing sides in the wider civil war which has killed more than 400,000 people and spawned the world's worst refugee crisis.

He added: "Putin is the leader of Russian Federation". 57% say ISIS is an "immediate and serious threat" to the United States - around twice as many as those who think that about Iran, Russia, or Syria.

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