Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:41PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and US President Donald Trump
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and US President Donald Trump
  • Embed

Russia's Foreign Ministry has hoped for "productive talks" with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as he arrives in Moscow on his first visit.

The ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the outcome of the talks was important not only for the Russia-US ties but "for the overall atmosphere on the world stage."

Tillerson landed in Moscow later on Tuesday. He is planned to meet with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The US diplomat is also likely to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin has declined to say whether President Putin would meet with Tillerson.

During the visit, the US secretary of state will reportedly persuade Russia to abandon Syria, which has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011.

The visit comes several days after a chemical attack in Syria and a US missile strike on a Syrian army base. Moscow has already dismissed the strike as "an act of aggression."

Tillerson had earlier acknowledged that Russia can play a role in Syria's future.

Tillerson recently said Russia must choose between the United States and the administration of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives at a press conference on April 6, 2017 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by AFP)

Read more:

Last week, over 80 people died in the town of Khan Shaykhun in Syria’s Idlib province in what opponents of the Syrian government say was a chemical weapons attack by Damascus.

Syria has, however, denied the accusation, saying instead that a chemical weapons depot held and run by anti-Damascus militants had been hit in a conventional Syrian airstrike, causing the leak of the chemicals and the deaths. Russia has confirmed that account.

Using the Idlib tragedy as a pretext, the US president on April 7 ordered a missile strike on the Syrian airbase. A barrage of 59 Tomahawk missiles was launched against the airfield in western Syria early on the same day, causing some 15 fatalities, including civilians.

The US strike was conducted without a mandate by the United Nations Security Council, and did not even have a Congressional approval.