McMaster on US-Russia relations: 'Nowhere to go but up'

National security adviser H.R. McMaster during an interview that aired Sunday said the U.S. relationship with Russia can only improve.

During an interview on ABC's "This Week," McMaster was asked about what gave President Trump confidence that things would "work out fine" between the U.S. and Russia," referring to a tweet last week from the president.

"Well, when relations are at the lowest point, there’s nowhere to go but up," McMaster said. 

He said he thinks Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Russia was "perfectly timed." 

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"Russia has given support to a murderous regime in Syria that has perpetuated a civil war and a cycle of violence," McMaster said.

"Along with obviously the brutal — the brutal efforts of and actions of ISIS, have brought suffering to so many people, have created a crisis within Syria that has bled over into Iraq, and of course has bled over into neighboring countries and into Europe and so forth."

McMaster called Russia's support for that "kind of horrible regime" something that "has to be drawn into question."

"And so I think it’s time though, now, to have those tough discussions with Russia. And there’s nobody to do it than our secretary of state," he said.

"And then also to find areas of cooperation."

Tillerson said earlier this month that U.S.-Russia relations hit a "low point" marked by serious mistrust and differences over international issues, including the conflict in Syria.

He made the comments following a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He noted both sides understand that "improvement in the long-term relationship is required" to resolve the conflicts in Syria.

Tensions between Moscow and Washington have flared following of a chemical attack in Syria that the U.S. and other world powers say was carried out by Syrian President Bashar Assad. In response, the U.S. launched a missile strike on a Syrian airfield.

The president last week tweeted that things will "work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia. At the right time everyone will come to their senses & there will be lasting peace."