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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

    US-Russia Ties ‘Worst in Decades’ After Tillerson Visits Moscow, Diplomat Says

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    American diplomat Chas Freeman said to Sputnik that the visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Russia has deepened contradictions between Moscow and Washington.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Relations between the United States and Russia are at their worst in decades and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s talks in Moscow only increased the distrust, Freeman, the former US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and veteran diplomat, told Sputnik.

    "The talks seem to have confirmed that, in the wake of the US bombing of Shayrat air base in Syria, US-Russian relations are at their lowest level in decades," Freeman, who also served as US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said. "Prospects for cooperation in the immediate future are nonexistent."

    Relations between the White House and the Kremlin appeared to be worse, not better following Tillerson’s talks in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Freeman pointed out.

    Tillerson reportedly angered Lavrov by trying to blame the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad for the deaths of civilians in a chemical agent attack at the village of Khan Shaykhun based on doubtful evidence supplied by an anti-Assad rebel website, Freeman pointed out.

    Tillerson’s "reported effort to convince his Russian counterpart… by handing over evidence based on a rebel website is said to have enraged the normally unflappable Sergei Lavrov," Freeman noted.

    Only a further surprise reversal of policy by President Donald Trump could revive hopes of improved ties, Freeman observed.

    "Given the record to date, that cannot be ruled out but it seems highly unlikely in light of the continuing anti-Russian hysteria in the United States," he said.

    Tillerson also flew to Moscow without any negotiating proposal or leverage to present to the Russians, Freeman added.

    "Trump inherited no cards to play on Syria from his predecessor [former Secretary of State John Kerry]. The bombing of the Sha'irat air base did not create any. Thus, Tillerson went to Moscow with neither a hand to play nor a game plan," he said.

    Chas Freeman is a lifetime director of the Atlantic Council and served as US Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’affaires at the US embassies in Beijing and Bangkok. Freeman also held several senior level positions at the US Department of Defense.


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