Wall St’s ‘Charging Bull’ artist challenges ‘Fearless Girl’ sculpture

The sculptor of Wall Street’s “Charging Bull” statue is seeing red over New York City’s decision to keep in place the “Fearless Girl” sculpture that now stares it down, saying the adjacent art has changed the meaning of his work and violated his legal rights.

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The city’s ruling to let the bronze depiction of a defiant girl remain until February 2018 just feet from the bull’s flaring nostrils should be reviewed, said a lawyer for sculptor Arturo Di Modica.

“How did the process happen and should permits be revoked?” the attorney, Norman Siegel, said in an interview on Wednesday, adding that his client ought to have been consulted.

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“He should have been asked, never was,” Siegel said. “There are copyright and trademark infringement issues.”

Di Modica told a news conference he envisioned his statue as a positive symbol, but that the addition of the courageous girl turned his bull into a villain.

“It’s really bad,” Di Modica said, sounding distraught and adding that the bull was loved by people “all over the world.”

The 50-inch (127-cm) girl stands fists on hips on a cobble stone plaza, eye-balling the 11-foot (3.4-meter) bull that has occupied the space in Manhattan’s financial district for nearly three decades.

Siegel said they want the girl sculpture moved and for Di Modica to be awarded damages for the violation of his legal, statutory rights.

Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted in response: “Men who don’t like women taking up space are exactly why we need the Fearless Girl.”

‘Commercial purposes’ 

Initially installed to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, the girl statue was meant to be removed on April 2. But the city extended its stay amid ebullient interest on social media, generous press attention and at least two petitions.

State Street Global Advisors, a subsidiary of State Street Corp, said it financed the installation by artist Kristen Visbal to highlight the need for more women on corporate boards. Twenty-five percent of the largest 3,000 U.S. companies have no female directors, State Street noted at the time.

Siegel said the intent was less high-minded, adding, “They did it for commercial purposes.”

A plaque originally placed at the girl’s feet read: ”Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.” It refers to an exchange-traded fund dubbed “SHE,” which invests in companies with women in top executive posts.

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“They have since taken the plaque away,” Siegel said. “Which acknowledges perhaps it never should have been there in the first place.”

Siegel said he has filed Freedom of Information requests about the permitting process with various city offices. He said he hopes to avoid going to court and would rather negotiate.

The 7,100-pound (3,200 kg) bull itself originally appeared as guerrilla art, installed unofficially in front of the New York Stock Exchange by Di Modica in 1989 and intended to convey the fighting spirit of the United States and of New York.

After police seized the sculpture, public outcry led the city’s parks department to reinstall it days later nearby at its current location.

Kate Harding, assistant director of Cornell University Women’s Resource Center, said the bull’s “hypermasculine, aggressive image” belongs to a different era of New York.

She said images of “Fearless Girl” did not go viral online because people wanted to promote an investment company, “but because she represents a refreshing, inclusive, 21st-century vision of core American values like courage and righteous defiance.”

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Bellamy’s interim CEO now permanent

The man filling in as chief executive of infant formula supplier Bellamy’s Australia has been tasked with the job of steering the company out of its current woes.

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Andrew Cohen has been in the role since January 11, replacing long-term chief executive Laura McBain, who resigned after a torrid time for the company.

“Andrew has shown himself to be a highly focused and capable senior executive and we believe that he brings the right qualities and skills for the role of CEO of Bellamy’s,” chairman Rod Peters said in a statement.

Mr Cohen said he looked forward to working closely with senior management and the Bellamy’s board to restore shareholder value after a difficult period for the business.

Tasmania-based Bellamy’s endured a massive share price plunge in December and January after it flagged a significant drop in sales in the key China market and twice downgraded its full year earnings forecast.

Most of the company’s board resigned or were then dumped in a shareholder backlash in February, and Bellamy’s is also facing a class action from shareholders seeking to get back some of the losses from the massive share price fall.

Bellamy’s has also appointed John Ho, the founder and chief investment officer of Hong Kong-based investor Janchor Partners, which has a stake of 7.01 per cent in Bellamy’s, as a non-executive director.

Mr Ho is also the deputy chairman of the Hong Kong Exchange listing committee that oversees the listing rules and companies in Hong Kong.

“He has deep experience investing in both China and Australia, including in consumer and health sectors, and has been a director of publicly listed and private companies with strong governance experience,” Mr Peters said.

Further appointments to the Bellamy’s board will be made in due course, he said.

Shares in Bellamy’s were down one cent at $4.44 at 1450 AEST.

Whitehaven expects sales rise after Debbie

Whitehaven Coal is hoping to cash in on the recent spike in metallurgical coal prices as disruptions from Cyclone Debbie affect global supplies.

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The company has an optimistic outlook despite a four per cent drop in its third quarter production, due to maintenance work at its Narrabri mine in NSW.

The east coast miner expects coal prices to remain high for several months, and said it is likely to boost metallurgical coal sales in the last quarter of the financial following increased enquiries for the steel making ingredient.

Coal prices have soared since Debbie hit Queensland in late March, and caused severe flooding and landslides that forced the closure of key ports, railways and mines.

Five major miners have declared ‘force majeure’ for their coal deliveries from the region, and analysts have estimated a loss of roughly 15 million tonnes of coal shipments from the world’s seaborne coking coal supplies.

“This loss of exports is likely to be positive for coal prices until normal production and shipments resume and any contract delivery shortfall recovered, which could take some months,” Whitehaven said on Thursday.

The company operates mines in NSW and has not been impacted by the natural disaster.

Whitehaven still expects to achieve full year production of 21 to 22 million tonnes, despite lower production during the quarter at the Narrabri mine.

The miner realised an average price of $US119 per tonne for metallurgical coal during the quarter, up from $US104 a tonne in the preceding three months.

For thermal coal, its main export, the average realised price was $US83 per tonne, compared to $US92 in the previous three months.

Whitehaven shares dropped 22 cents, or 6.9 per cent, to $2.98.

South Africa level T20 series with England

South Africa beat England by three runs in a thrilling T20 international to level the series on Friday, as Jason Roy became the first batsman in the game’s format to be dismissed for obstructing the field.

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South Africa made 8-174 with JJ Smuts contributing 45 and skipper AB de Villiers striking 46 from 30 balls.

England in reply made 6-171 with opening batsman Roy leading the run chase with 67 before being controversially dismissed.

Roy shared a 110-run second wicket partnership with Jonny Bairstow (47) but with 29 needed to win off the final three overs, England fell short.

Andile Phehlukwayo delivered a superb final over for South Africa, but Roy’s dismissal was the talking point as it proved to be the pivotal moment in the match.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was not playing in the game, took to Twitter to say: “Can’t believe that @JasonRoy20 was given out in that manner today….embarrassment is the only word that can be associated with the decision.”

But England captain Eoin Morgan described it as “probably a 50-50 call”, saying South Africa were within their rights to appeal while at the same time raising debate about the spirit of the game.

“It was probably a 50-50 call. You could see both sides of it,” Morgan said.

“Everyone in the changing room thought it could go either way so it’s not massively controversial.

“You can see why the umpires gave him out. Jason obviously looked at the umpire but after that he ran in a straight line, so that’s why it was a 50-50 call.

“They (South Africa) were certainly entitled to appeal and the spirit of the game is open to interpretation.”

It was an entertaining game for the Somerset crowd, enjoying the first international contest at their ground since the 1999 World Cup.

“It was about the energy and showing the South African never-say-die, attitude … now we have a decider on Sunday” said De Villiers.

The deciding match will be played at Cardiff.

Australia should be firm in the South China Sea: Former CIA boss

The former director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency says he believes Australia should carry out freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.

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Speaking at the Liberal Party’s federal council in Sydney, General David Petraeus said Australia had found itself in the curious position whereby China was its number one trading partner and also its number one “security cause for concern”.

General Petraeus said Australia and the US had to be firm and responsive toward China in the region, quoting former US President Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy of speaking softly and carrying a big stick.

He said this included Australia and its allies carrying out freedom of navigation operations in the disputed area.

“Absolutely that should be the case, and again, quietly done, you don’t have to have brass bands and fanfare but it should be done, and I think if it can be done as a coalition, it says much more,” he said.

General Petraeus described the Chinese Nine Dash Line as an “outrageous assertion that is completely without foundation in international law”.

“The fact is the islands have been constructed…they’re not reclaiming anything, they’re building islands.”

The former CIA chief also added Australia and its allies found themselves in “a generational struggle” in the Middle East.

“There is no silver bullet that you can shoot that will make this go away,” he said.

He said coalition forces were not going to be able to drone strike their way out of the problem.

Of Donald Trump’s presidency and its affects on the United States’ foreign policy, General Petreaus said he believed there had been “more continuity than change”.

However he said President Trump’s decision to turn his back on the Paris Climate Agreement was a mistake, adding it had “enormous symbolic value”.

“That is not something I would have welcomed or advised,” he said.

JT farewell could be distraction: Lewis

You can turn up for Johnathan Thurston’s farewell but don’t forget to rock up to the game.

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That’s the warning Queensland legend Wally Lewis has for the Maroons after Thurston was on Friday ruled out of this year’s State of Origin finale and the rest of the NRL season with a shoulder injury.

After forcing a decider with his match-winning conversion in game two, Thurston will watch from the sidelines at Suncorp Stadium on July 12.

And while Lewis admits the North Queensland star’s on-field absence will provide extra motivation for the Maroons, the Immortal is urging the team not to be distracted by the drama.

“It would be a nice way to do it, to be able to say to JT, ‘We did it for you’ but I don’t think it should be the centre of attention in winning game three,” Lewis told AAP.

“In a funny way, even bringing JT’s name into it might be the worst possible thing. They’re going to be concentrating on winning the game for a different reason than wrapping up the series up.”

Lewis, who was farewelled a winner in the 1991 Origin decider at the old Lang Park, admits Thurston’s exit from the representative arena will ensure a capacity crowd in Brisbane.

“It’s always used in the promotion for it, spoken about in the press,” he said.

But he insists the primary objective must be staying focused on how the Maroons will overcome a Blues team that will be buoyed by Thurston’s absence.

NSW stunned Queensland 28-4 in game one.

“All of the blokes that take part in it, they’re the first ones to put their hands up and say, ‘That’s bullshit, you’re not playing for me. You’re playing to wrap up the series’,” Lewis said.

“To carry on with this garbage that you’re playing to send him out a winner, that’s not part of it.

“The guys are instructed to do one thing – to stick to the game plan, to retain that in their mind all the way through in the build-up and achieve success for the right reason.

“The players, they’ll speak about it once.

“They’ll say we do want to make sure JT can enjoy it as well. But this is all about us sticking to the game plan and making sure we win it because unfortunately he won’t be playing any part in it.”

Sydney gay bashing witness changes some of his evidence

A witness has walked back the evidence he gave NSW Police in 2013 about gay hate bashings on Sydney’s northern beaches, saying they weren’t as numerous or around North Head where a young American was found dead in 1988.

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He had told NSW detectives in 2013 a group of men committed more than 20 gay hate assaults and robberies on Sydney’s northern beaches between 1986 and 1988 at various locations with up to five occurring at North Head.

The body of 27-year-old American mathematician Scott Johnson was found at the bottom of the cliff at Manly’s North Head in December 1988.

The police source, who can’t be named for legal reasons, this week gave evidence behind closed doors at the third coronial inquest into Mr Johnson’s death.

In a summary of the source’s evidence, released on Friday evening, it’s been suggested the North Head assaults took place in an area of scrub with clearings.

One of the members of the group sometimes acted as “bait” to make contact with a victim.

“The information did not suggest that any of the group had ever pushed anyone off a cliff,” the summary of the evidence states.

In 2014, the source told police the number of times the group travelled to North Head to commit gay-hate crimes was fewer than he had indicated in 2013.

The source in 2017 “has said that some of the earlier information was not accurate”, the summary of his evidence states.

The source now claims the assaults and robberies said to have been committed in the late 1980s at North Head “had in fact been committed at either Reef Beach or at an area of North Head that was different to the area he had previously indicated to police”.

Saudi police foil ‘terrorist action’ injuring six in Mecca: state TV

The incident happened around the Grand Mosque, where hundreds of thousands of worshippers gathered for early afternoon prayers on the last Friday of this year’s Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month.

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Ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki told Saudi television that police “foiled the terrorist plan that targeted the security of the Grand Mosque, pilgrims and worshippers.”

In dawn raids on Mecca and the Red Sea city of Jeddah officers arrested five suspects, including a woman, before surrounding the bomber’s location around the Grand Mosque.

“Unfortunately he started shooting towards security personnel once he noticed their presence in the area, which led to an exchange of fire before he blew himself up,” Turki said.

The blast partially collapsed the building where he had taken refuge, injuring the six pilgrims, Turki said.

He added that four had already been released from hospital, and five security men were also slightly hurt.

Since late 2014 Saudi Arabia has faced periodic bombings and shootings claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.

Purported images from the scene that circulated on social media showed an alley filled with bricks and other debris apparently from a blast.

Video showed what appeared to be a bearded man’s head lying among rubble from a collapsed structure.

0:00 Many say Ramadan brings people togtheer Share Many say Ramadan brings people togtheer

Counterterrorism capabilities

Near the end of Ramadan last year in the Saudi city of Medina four security officers died in an explosion close to Islam’s second holiest site, the Prophet’s Mosque.

It was one of three suicide blasts around the kingdom on the same day, in which a total of seven people were believed killed. The others occurred in Jeddah and in the Gulf city of Qatif.

The US Central Intelligence Agency said those attacks bore the hallmarks of IS.

Most of the targets in Saudi Arabia have been the Shiite minority and security forces, killing dozens of people.

IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has called for attacks against the kingdom, a member of the US-led coalition battling the group in Syria and Iraq.

Since July last year police have arrested around 40 people, including Saudis and Pakistanis, for alleged extremist links.

Saudi Arabia’s counter-terrorism capabilities — which for years were led by Prince Mohammed bin Nayef — are well-regarded internationally.

On Wednesday Prince Mohammed was ousted from his posts of crown prince and interior minister, replaced as heir to the throne by King Salman’s son Mohammed bin Salman.

Friday’s counter-terrorist operation was the first to take place under the new interior minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef, who is in his early 30s.

Prince Abdulaziz is the nephew of the deposed minister.

 

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‘They will kill me’: Saudi woman seeking asylum in Australia returned en route

Authorities in the Philippines intercepted a Saudi woman fleeing to Australia and helped organise her return to Saudi Arabia, where her life is in danger, Saudi Arabian feminist activists have said.

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Dina Ali Lasloom intended to enter Australia on a tourist visa – seen by The Australian – and then claim asylum.

“If my family come, they will kill me. If I go back to Saudi Arabia, I will be dead,” Ms Lasloom said in a video sent to an activist and posted to Twitter.

“I stopped in Philippines,” she said, “they took my passport and locked me for 13 hours – just because I’m a Saudi woman – with the collaboration of Saudi embassy.”

The incident sparked a viral social media campaign under the hashtag #SaveDinaAli, but activists say Ms Lasoom has since been forced to return to Saudi Arabia, escorted by relatives.

The Saudi embassy in the Philippines on Wednesday issued a statement branding the situation a family matter and said the woman had returned “with her relatives to the homeland”.

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Meagan Khan, a Canadian woman who says she witnessed the incident and attempted to help, said in a video posted to Twitter that “someone important” spoke with authorities and told them to prevent onward travel – in another post an activist referred to Ms Lasoom’s “diplomatic uncles.”

Ms Kahn told The Australian that she let Ms Lasloom use her phone to send messages and videos, and that the woman became very upset when men arrived who she said were her relatives.

Reuters has reported that witnesses saw a woman being carried through the airport.

“I heard a lady screaming from upstairs. Then I saw two or three men carrying her. They weren’t Filipino. They looked Arab,” one Filipino woman told the news agency.

Philippine Star reported that immigration officials said that because she was a transit passenger, it was a matter for the airline and not immigration.

The newspaper reported that it was unable to independently verify the details of the incident.

SBS has sought confirmation of details from Saudi and Philippine government representatives – but has not yet received a response.

A rare gathering of about 10 Saudi activists appeared in the arrivals area of the Riyadh airport around midnight on Wednesday, after a hashtag began circulating on Twitter urging people to “receive Dina at the airport.”

One of them, a 23-year-old medical student named Alaa Alanazi, appeared to have been detained after approaching airport security about the case.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection, when asked to confirm that a tourist visa was issued to Ms Lasoom, said they could not comment on individual visa matters for privacy reasons.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive countries when it comes to women’s freedom – women require permission from a male “guardian” to study, marry, travel, go to the doctor and conduct other everyday activities.

– with AAP

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Protesters in S. Africa urge Zuma to quit

More than 30,000 people have marched in Pretoria calling on South African President Jacob Zuma to quit, keeping up pressure on the leader over his handling of the struggling economy.

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The protesters marched through the city and held a rally at a field outside the Union Buildings, the site of Zuma’s offices.

Zuma, who turned 75 on Wednesday, has survived previous protests but the main opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA) and other parties behind the protest believe they can drum up support to force Zuma out of office following his dismissal of respected Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in a cabinet reshuffle.

South Africa’s parliament said on Wednesday a motion of no-confidence in President Zuma has been postponed until a court decides whether the vote should be taken by secret ballot.

Opposition parties have said that a no-confidence vote could have a chance of success if it is held by secret ballot, but the ruling African National Congress party, which has a majority in parliament, has said it will vote against it.

South Africa’s economy has grown lethargically over the last six years and the jobless rate stands near record levels.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) party has rejected calls for Zuma to step down. He has denied repeated allegations of corruption since winning power in 2009 and more than 60,000 people marched on Friday calling for him to quit.

The ultra-left Economic Freedom Fighters and other parties took part in Wednesday’s protest, dubbed “National Day of Action”.

“He is misusing state money,” said 21-year-old student and Pretoria resident Thomas Monyoko wearing a red EFF T-shirt.

“Let the message be clear today that Zuma is no longer a credible president of South Africa,” Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said.

“We don’t care whether you are white, whether you are Indian, whether you are black, we are here to defend the future of our children.”

Zuma had accused Friday’s marchers of having racist motives. Like Friday, a mixed racial profile of people attended Wednesday’s rallies but there were less white people.

The rand climbed to a one-week high on Wednesday, in part encouraged by comments from the new finance minister indicating no significant change in policy.

Malala becomes honorary Canadian

Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai has returned to Canada to receive her honorary citizenship and address the country’s lawmakers after her first visit to Parliament in 2014 was put off because of a terror attack.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented her with a framed certificate of citizenship. She’s only the sixth person to receive the honour and the youngest ever.

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The 19-year-old Pakistani activist was 15 when she was shot in the head by Taliban militants while returning from school. She was targeted for advocating women’s education.

She won world acclaim for her campaign and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

Malala originally was scheduled to receive honorary citizenship in October 2014, but the Canadian Parliament was stormed by an armed terrorist that day. The gunman killed a soldier standing guard at Ottawa’s war memorial shortly before storming Parliament in an attack that was stopped cold when he was shot to death.

“The man who attacked Parliament Hill called himself a Muslim – but he did not share my faith. He did not share the faith of one and a half billion Muslims living in peace around the world. He did not share our Islam – a religion of learning, compassion and mercy,” Malala said.

Malala also praised Canada for welcoming more than 40,000 Syrian refugees, and appeared to add an appeal to the US as well.

“I pray that you continue to open your homes and your hearts to the world’s most defenceless children and families,” she said, “and I hope your neighbours will follow your example.”

The other five honorary Canadian citizens are the Dalai Lama, the Aga Khan, Nelson Mandela, Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi and Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.

Tensions high, North Korea readies nuclear test: report

The 38 North analysis group described the test site as “primed and ready.

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“Commercial satellite imagery of North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site from April 12 shows continued activity around the North Portal, new activity in the Main Administrative Area, and a few personnel around the site’s Command Center,” the North Korea-related analysis website said.

A barrage of recent North Korean missile tests has stoked US fears that Pyongyang may soon develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the US mainland.

There is speculation that the country could be preparing a missile launch, or even another nuclear test — this would be its sixth — to mark the 105th birthday anniversary of its founder Kim Il-Sung on Saturday.

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The Voice of America said Wednesday night, quoting US government and other sources, that North Korea “has apparently placed a nuclear device in a tunnel and it could be detonated Saturday AM Korea time.”

President Donald Trump’s administration has been forceful in its warnings to Pyongyang that leave military options “on the table,” as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said.

The threat carries extra weight after the US strike on a Syrian air base last week.

“We are sending an armada. Very powerful,” Trump said Wednesday. “We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier.”

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He was referring to a strike group headed by the USS Carl Vinson supercarrier that has been re-routed to the Korean peninsula in a show of force against Kim.

The strike group, which deployed with about 6,500 sailors, is still some way south, conducting exercises with the Australian navy.

The US Navy already has a massive regional presence, including another carrier strike group headquartered at Yokosuka in Japan.

Russia-US relations sour over Syria

The presidents of the United States and Russia have both presented souring views of the relationship between their two countries, exchanging sharp words as Moscow extended an icy welcome to the United States’ top diplomat in a face-off over Syria.

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In Washington, President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the United States’ relationship with Moscow “may be at an all-time low.”

Trump’s comments follow the biggest foreign policy decision of his new presidency when he ordered 59 cruise missiles be fired into Syrian air base as payback for a deadly poison gas the US believed the Syrian regime carried out on April 4. Russia condemned the US action.

Hours earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin was equally pessimistic, saying in an interview on Russian television: “The level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved but has rather deteriorated.”

The rhetoric came as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson received an unusually hostile reception in Moscow, where any hope of better US-Russia relations were dashed by the American missile strike.

Tillerson met Putin in the Kremlin after talking to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, for about three hours. The Kremlin had previously declined to confirm Putin would meet Tillerson, reflecting the renewed tensions.

Trump had frequently called during the 2016 US presidential election campaign for warmer ties with Putin, despite criticism from lawmakers in his own Republican Party.

But the civil war in Syria has driven a wedge between Moscow and Washington, upending what many in Russia hoped would be a transformation in relations.

As Tillerson sat down for talks with Lavrov on Wednesday, a volley of statements, including from a senior Russian official, appeared timed to maximise the awkwardness during the first visit to Moscow by a member of Trump’s cabinet.

Lavrov doubled down on Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, repeating denials that Assad’s government was to blame for the gas attack, instead saying it may have been faked by Assad’s enemies.

Tillerson reiterated that Assad must eventually relinquish power in Syria.

“We discussed our view that Russia as their closest ally in the conflict perhaps has the best means of helping Assad recognise this reality,” he said.

Lavrov said the missile strike was illegal and accused Washington of unpredictable behaviour.

But Lavrov said some progress has been made and that a working group would examine the state of US-Russia ties. He also said Putin had agreed to reactivate a US-Russian air safety agreement over Syria that Moscow suspended after the US missile strikes.

Tillerson noted the low level of trust between the two countries. “The world’s two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship,” he said.

Moscow’s hostility to Trump administration figures is a sharp change from last year, when Putin hailed Trump as a strong figure and Russian state television was often full of effusive praise for him.

In another possible setback Trump backtracked on comments he made last year that NATO was obsolete but added that member nations must be their share to be part of it.

Trump flatly declared US relations with Russia were not good at the moment.

“Right now, we’re not getting along with Russia at all. We may be at an all-time low in terms of a relationship with Russia. This has built for a long period of time. But we’re going to see what happens,” Trump told the news conference.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump said his administration’s policy was not to demand Assad step down as part of a “peaceful resolution to the conflict,” in some contrast to Tillerson’s remarks in Moscow.

The Wall Street Journal cited Trump as saying that Assad’s use of chemical weapons again would elicit another military response, but he also said he would not intervene in depth in the conflict.

The US has accused Moscow of trying to cover up Assad’s use of chemical weapons on April 4.

Russia blocked a Western effort at the UN Security Council on Wednesday to condemn the gas attack and push Assad to cooperate with international inquiries into the incident.