As Tillerson visits Moscow, Trump calls Assad an 'animal'

Ms. Freeland spoke to journalists by telephone following a meeting of Group of Seven foreign-affairs ministers in Italy.

Russian Federation says the USA has failed to provide evidence that Syria has chemical weapons.

The next two days will be dominated by a collective search for arguments to persuade President Vladimir Putin he must now end Russia's military support for President Assad and help accelerate a negotiated political transition. "Russia's had a very hard time getting President Assad to come to the negotiating table in any kind of meaningful way". Russian Federation needs to decide whether it wants to double down on its support for this murderous regime that is committing war crimes or whether it wants to say: "'We do not want to be associated with this, '" Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister said.

World leaders have long disagreed on how to handle the Syrian civil war, a six-year catastrophe that has pitted Assad's regime, multiple anti-Assad rebel groups and the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group against each other.

Reluctant to put significant troops on the ground in Syria, the USA for years has struggled to prevent Assad from strengthening his hold on power.

UK ambassador to the United Nations Matthew Rycroft said it was "indefensible" for Russian Federation to support the Syrian regime, as UK scientists in Porton Down confirmed that samples from the scene tested positive for a toxic chemical known as sarin.

Before Tuesday's attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, which killed 89 people, Haley had said toppling Assad was not a priority.

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) major industrialised nations met in Italy on Monday, looking to put pressure on Russian Federation to break its ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The missile strike targeted an airbase the United States said was used to launch the chemical weapons attack on civilians. While Britain says Assad must go, Alfano was cautious on the issue, saying that decision should be up to the Syrians.

Russia, which has advisers on the ground aiding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, warned the USA strike could have serious consequences.

On Tuesday, speaking to journalists, Ms. Freeland put it more bluntly.

Mr Trump also backtracked on his criticism of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation at a joint press conference with its secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, saying: "I said it was obsolete; it's no longer obsolete".

"I think it is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end", Tillerson said of Russia's ally.

On top of Syria, Tillerson will likely also address Russia's meddling in the US presidential election andaccusations that the Kremlin has violated an anti-missile treaty.

Tillerson is arriving at a fragile point in US-Russia relations, where he will have to confront the Kremlin's anger over the missile strikes in Syria along with suspicion at home that Moscow may have been complicit in the Syrian government's chemical weapons attack.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has denounced Russia's "failure" to ensure the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria, on the on the eve of crucial talks in Moscow. But he said the distinction "doesn't much matter to the dead".

In his first televised interview, H.R. McMaster pointed to dual US goals of defeating the Islamic State group and removing Assad from power. And it has has ravaged the nation: About 400,000 Syrians have died in the fighting, according to humanitarian groups, and almost 5 million people have fled the nation as refugees, contributing to an global refugee crisis with many European nations struggling to cope with an influx of migrants.

"The Kremlin argues Assad gave up his chemical weapons stores under a 2013 agreement Moscow brokered with the Obama administration; Tillerson has accused Russian Federation of "incompetence" in failing to enforce that deal", Charles Maynes reports for NPR from Moscow. "Or Russia can maintain its alliance with this group, which we believe is not going to serve Russia's interests longer-term". Tillerson sidestepped the question, but Lavrov said Russian Federation had seen no proof for the "slanderous" accusation.

Those comments came a day after the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said there was no way to stabilise Syria with Mr Assad as president.

His comments, aired Wednesday on Fox Business News, come less than a week after Trump ordered a retaliatory strike on Syria based on USA evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad attacked civilians with chemical weapons.

However the G7, which groups Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the UK along with the United States, with the European Union also represented, is still seeking clarification of Washington's policy on Syria.

  • Leroy Wright


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