Putin slams Trump ties as top diplomats spar on Syria

Russian president says ties with US worsened in recent months as top diplomats lock horns over Syria conflict.

Putin doubled down on Russia’s support for Syria’s Assad repeating denials that Assad’s government was to blame for the gas attack

The trust between Washington and Moscow has “deteriorated” since Donald Trump was elected US president, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday, as the Kremlin dismissed US calls to abandon Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as “short-sighted” and “absurd”.

The comments came as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the Trump administration to clarify its policies as he opened a fraught meeting with his American counterpart, Rex Tillerson.

“One could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved but has rather deteriorated,” Putin said in an interview broadcast on Russian television.

Putin doubled down on Russia’s support for Assad, repeating denials that Syria’s government was to blame for a suspected gas attack last week on a rebel-held town, adding that it may have been faked by Assad’s enemies.

Moments earlier, Lavrov greeted Tillerson with unusually icy remarks, denouncing the missile strike on Syria as illegal and accusing Washington of behaving unpredictably.

“I won’t hide the fact that we have a lot of questions, taking into account the extremely ambiguous and sometimes contradictory ideas which have been expressed in Washington across the whole spectrum of bilateral and multilateral affairs,” Lavrov said.

“And of course, that’s not to mention that apart from the statements, we observed very recently the extremely worrying actions, when an illegal attack against Syria was undertaken.”

Lavrov also said that many key US State Department posts remain vacant since the new administration took office – a point of sensitivity in Washington.

One of Lavrov’s deputies was even more undiplomatic.

“In general, primitiveness and loutishness are very characteristic of the current rhetoric coming out of Washington. We’ll hope that this doesn’t become the substance of American policy,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russia’s state-owned RIA news agency.

“As a whole, the administration’s stance with regards to Syria remains a mystery. Inconsistency is what comes to mind first of all.”

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Source By http://www.aljazeera.com

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