US, UK call on Putin to rethink support for Syria

Even before Trump ordered last week's strike on the air base in retaliation for a nerve gas attack, Tillerson's visit was certain to be dominated by thorny issues, including Russian interference in the 2016 USA election, an apparent violation of an important arms control treaty, and seeing what cooperation, if any, is possible in the fight against Islamic State.

Tillerson ought to be "very matter of fact" in his meetings, Blinken said, sending Russian Federation a message that: "If you don't rein him in, we will take further action".

Although Russia has steadfastly supported Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, and they've coordinated military attacks together, Washington has never previously accused Moscow of complicity in any attack that involved the gassing of innocent civilians, including children.

The United States and Britain have called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to re-evaluate his country's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Tillerson repeated his accusation that Russian Federation had "failed to uphold the agreements that. stipulated Russian Federation, as the guarantor of a Syria free of chemical weapons, would locate, secure, and destroy all such armaments in Syria".

"I'm hopeful that we can have constructive talks with the Russian government, with Foreign Minister (Sergei) Lavrov and have Russia be supportive of a process that will lead to a stable Syria", Tillerson told ABC's "The Week" on Sunday.

"They're going to try to draw a line around this incident", said Alexander Vershbow, a former USA ambassador to Russian Federation during the George W. Bush administration.

The G-7 members - Germany, France, Britain, Canada, Japan and current president Italy, as well as the USA - are also trying to grasp what the US administration's foreign policy is, amid conflicting signals from Washington.

The moves follow the latest apparent use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Now, Tabler said, the Russians can point to more US strikes as the price of further intransigence by Assad.

Though such comments hint at a more activist USA foreign policy focused on preventing humanitarian atrocities, Trump's administration has generally downplayed human rights concerns while promoting an "America First" strategy de-emphasizing the concerns of foreign nations.

However Washington's Syria policy remains unclear to many, with Mr Tillerson saying that there had been "no change to our military posture" in Syria following the USA airbase strike and that Washington's "first priority" was to defeat so-called Islamic State (IS).

The U.S. hopes the regional countries can help ensure security and stability in Syria after the Islamic State group is defeated. European leaders are especially conscious of the disaster in Libya, where an internationally backed ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi was followed by a descent into chaos and factional fighting.

"We need to make it clear to Putin that the time to back Assad has gone", he said, warning that Putin was "damaging Russia" by supporting Assad.

The G-7 urged North Korea to refrain from further "destabilizing or provocative actions" and abandon its nuclear weapons program - a call likely to fall on deaf ears.

  • Leroy Wright