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US President admits relations with Russia are at 'all-time low'

By Vivian Salama

US relations with Russia "may be at an all-time low" said Donald Trump as he moved ever further away from his campaign promises to establish better ties with Moscow.

"Right now we're not getting along with Russia at all," Mr Trump said flatly during a White House news conference with Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

It was a grim assessment that echoed the words of the president's top diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who left an almost two-hour meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow declaring the countries had reached a "low point" in relations.

The less-than-positive assessments of relations by both Mr Trump and Mr Tillerson reflected the former Cold War foes' inability to forge greater co-operation, as Mr Trump until recently has advocated.

More than 80 people were killed in Syria in what the US has described as a nerve gas attack that Syrian president Bashar Assad's forces undoubtedly carried out.

Russia says rebels were responsible for whatever chemical agent was found, which the Trump administration calls a disinformation campaign.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov yesterday blasted American claims of incontrovertible evidence that Assad ordered the chemical attack.

Mr Tillerson was greeted frostily in the Russian capital as Mr Lavrov began their meeting yesterday by demanding to know America's "real intentions".

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Sean Spicer has apologised for making an "insensitive" reference to the Holocaust in comments about Syrian President Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons.

Mr Spicer said during a White House briefing on Tuesday that Adolf Hitler "didn't even sink to using chemical weapons".

The remark drew strong criticism from Jewish groups and critics who noted it ignored Hitler's use of gas chambers to exterminate Jews during the Holocaust.

He admitted it was a mistake to make a comparison.

Belfast Telegraph


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