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Tillerson, Lavrov Meet for Talks in Moscow following Chemical Attack in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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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. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Moscow on Wednesday that the US strike in Syria should not be repeated, describing the strikes carried out by the United States on a Syrian airbase last week as unlawful.

Lavrov revealed that he expects holding “frank and honest discussions” with Tillerson on forming a broad anti-terrorism coalition.

“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,” he added.

Tillerson said his aim was to further clear up areas of differences so that both sides can better understand why the differences exist in the first place.

“Our meetings today come at an important moment in our Russian-US relationship so that we can further clarify areas of common objectives, areas of common interests, even if our tactical approaches may be different,” Tillerson said.

“I look forward to a very open, candid, frank exchange so that we can better define the US-Russian relationship from this point forward,” he told Lavrov.

US accused Moscow of trying to cover up the use of chemical weapons by Assad regime in the attack on a town which killed 87 people last week.

While Trump responded to the gas attack by firing 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian regime air base on Friday, Moscow has said the poison gas belonged to rebels, an explanation Washington dismisses as beyond credible.

Washington is leading a campaign of air strikes in Syria against ISIS militants and has backed rebels during a six-year civil war, however not until last week that the United States had directly targeted the Syrian regime.

According to an official statement on the secretary of state’s website, Tillerson will also meet other Russian officials to discuss “Ukraine, counterterrorism efforts, bilateral relations and other issues, including the North Korea and Syria.”

“This trip is part of our effort to maintain direct lines of communication with senior Russian officials and to ensure US views are clearly conveyed, including on next steps in Minsk implementation,” the statement added.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the upcoming talks between Tillerson and Lavrov are hoped to “stabilize and normalize” the relations between the two countries.

“We would like to understand whether Washington intends to resume practical cooperation with Russia in the fight against terrorism, including in Syria.” the statement said.