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Tillerson: Russia has 'best means' to convince Assad to go

On his first trip to Russia as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow to discuss steps to try to reverse the decline in relations between the United States and Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stand up to leave after a news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin - RTX35AP1

WASHINGTON — On his first trip to Russia as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson came out of two hours of meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 12 saying the United States and Russia needed to take steps to halt the sharp degradation of relations between the world’s foremost nuclear powers.

But while Tillerson said he and his Russian interlocutors were looking to build on areas of common ground, their sharp differences, including over the role of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria and his culpability in the April 4 chemical weapons attack in Idlib province, seemed to overwhelm any agreement on a process for advancing a political solution to end the Syrian civil war.

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