President also says Nato is no longer obsolete following his secretary of states visit to Moscow
Donald Trump has said that US relations with Russia may be at an all-time low and proclaimed a new-found religion in Nato, suggesting the alliance was no longer obsolete.
The US chairwomen remarks at the White House followed a two-hour session in Moscow between his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and Vladimir Putin, which failed to resolve any of the deep differences between the two nations on Syria, Ukraine, or Moscows interference in the 2016 US election.
Were not getting along with Russia at all, Trump said, adding we may be at an all-time low. He avoided any direct criticism of Putin, but compared the relationship with Russia unfavourably to the one he had cultivated with China since the visit of Xi Jinping last week.
Russia, Trump noted, had vetoed a US-backed resolution on Syria at the UN security council while China had abstained, adding that he was not surprised by Beijings posture connoting he had negotiated it with Xi.
In the latest of a series of dramatic foreign policy reversals in recent days, Trump dropped an accusation he had recurred throughout his presidential campaign, telling the Wall Street Journal that the Chinese were not currency manipulators.
The presidents remarks confirmed a significant change in his positions since taking office virtually three months ago, cooling towards Russia and reaffirming support for Nato.
A day after approving Natos latest expansion with the accession negotiations of Montenegro, a source of frenzy in Moscow, Trump used a joint appearance with the alliances secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, to distance himself from his past denigration of Nato, while claiming credit for improving its performance.
I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism, the president told. I said it was obsolete. Its no longer obsolete.
Tillersons two-hour audience with Putin in the Kremlin led to the removal of the most immediate threat of escalation, as Putin reaffirmed the maintenance of a hotline between the two countries militaries to avoid midair collisions between their aircraft is working in Syrian airspace.
Americas top diplomat said the two countries had agreed to create a working group to find solutions to smaller problems so that they could then concentrate on bigger issues.
But as he sat alongside his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, at a press conference, it was clear that fundamental differences between the US and Russia on Syria and beyond remained very much in place.