The Latest: US, Russia agree to push chemical weapons probe

The Latest: US, Russia agree to push chemical weapons probe

MOSCOW — The Latest on U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Moscow (all times local):

8:45 p.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow and Washington have agreed on the need for the United Nations to investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Lavrov spoke Wednesday after several hours of talks with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that focused on tensions over Syria sparked by a chemical attack that killed more than 80.

Lavrov says Russia thinks there is no need for a U.N. Security Council resolution on the attack until the U.N. chemical weapons watchdog has completed an objective probe.

Lavrov also says that Russian President Vladimir Putin could restore a military hotline with the U.S. if Washington focuses on fighting the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

Russia has cut the hotline in response following a U.S. strike on a Syrian air base last week.

___

6:30 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the Kremlin in Moscow.

The meeting Wednesday, announced by Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, comes hours after Tillerson faced his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in a tense encounter.

Russia’s top diplomat accused the United States of carrying out an unlawful attack against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces. Giving Tillerson a chilly reception, Lavrov said Russia was trying to understand the “real intentions” of the Trump administration.

___

12:38 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says relations between Moscow and Washington have deteriorated in the early months of Donald Trump’s presidency.

“It can be said that the level of trust at the working level, especially at the military level, has not become better but most likely has degraded,” Putin said in an interview broadcast Wednesday by state television channel Mir.

Putin also asserted that Syria has complied with an agreement to dispose of chemical weapons “so far as we know.” He reiterated previous Russian assertions that the chemical weapons attack last week that prompted a US Tomahawk missile barrage on a Syrian air base was either a rebel provocation or caused by Syrian warplanes hitting a rebel chemical weapons facility.

The interview was broadcast as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held his first meeting with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

___

12:30 p.m.

The spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin says Putin may still meet visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Tillerson, who arrived on Tuesday on his first visit to Russia since he was named to lead the U.S. State Department, is meeting for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that “if it is decided” that the Russian president needs to be briefed on the outcome of the Tillerson-Lavrov talks, he will meet them.

The Kremlin previously refused to say whether Putin would meet with Tillerson in Moscow.

___

11:50 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says he aims to clear up “sharp differences” with Russia as he opens a tense meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Tillerson and Lavrov are meeting in Moscow amid rising tensions over Syria.

Lavrov says Russia has lots of questions about the “very ambiguous” and “contradictory” ideas coming from the U.S. He says through a translator that it’s important for Russia to understand the “real intentions” of the Trump administration.

Tillerson says he wants to understand why U.S.-Russia differences exist. He says both countries have agreed that their lines of communications must stay open.

Lavrov is also subtly mocking Tillerson for the fact that top U.S. State Department positions are unfilled. He says that makes it hard to have clarity about U.S. positions.

___

10:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says Russian President Vladimir Putin is backing an “evil person” in Syria.

Trump says Syrian President Bashar Assad is “an animal.” He tells Fox Business Network that Putin’s support for Assad is “very bad for Russia.” Trump says it’s also “very bad for mankind.”

Trump is increasing pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to abandon Assad just as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is visiting Moscow. Tillerson has a meeting set later Wednesday in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It’s unclear whether Putin will grant Tillerson a meeting.

The meeting comes as early expectations of an easy rapport between the Trump administration and Russia are crashing into reality. Washington and Moscow are trading sharp accusations about a chemical weapons attack last week in Syria.

The Associated Press

Just Posted

Qualicum Beach staff moving forward with report for cinema, brew pub

Councillor makes motion to include The Old School House proposal

Annual pickleball tournament fills up quickly

Two-day event to take place indoors at Oceanside Place May 24-25

Lighthouse Country bus tour to focus on area’s tourism destinations

Business assocation wants more tourists to come to the area

Flock of spinners holding fleece and fibre fair in Coombs

Annual event raises money for Bradley Centre, supports local producers and vendors

BC Ferries CEO, president speaks to Parksville and Qualicum Beach chambers

Guest asks about Vancouver Island resident discount fares

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

PNE’s Summer Night Concerts by Village People, Lauper, Goo Goo Dolls, more

Mostly retro sounds at this year’s fair in Vancouver, starting Aug. 18

Notley to skip western premiers meeting today, but slams leader who’s there

Notley told reporters that B.C. Premier John Horgan is trying to shut down the Trans Mountain pipeline

No suitors emerge for pipeline project stake as Kinder Morgan deadline looms

Analysts and observers remain perplexed by Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s comment last week that “plenty of investors would be interested in taking on this project”.

Energy wells plugged as Hawaii’s volcano sends lava nearby

A spike in gas levels could prompt a mass evacuation in Hawaii

Trump seethes over Russia probe, calls for end to ‘SPYGATE’

“SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!” Trump said on Twitter

Grads receive BC Transit passes

BC Transit provides passes to graduating students in more than 50 communities

Philip Roth, fearless and celebrated author, dies at 85

Literary agent Andrew Wylie said Roth died Tuesday night of congestive heart failure.

Woman’s death near Tofino prompts warning about ‘unpredictable’ ocean

Ann Wittenberg was visiting Tofino for her daughter Victoria Emon’s wedding

Most Read