Trump seems to rule out further intervention in Syria
- Author: Leroy Wright Apr 13, 2017,
Apr 13, 2017, 20:25
A senior U.S. official said Moscow is trying to "confuse the world", while Mattis said Washington is certain Assad is to blame.
Trump said the U.S.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that trust had eroded between the two countries under U.S. President Donald Trump.
But Trump did not seem to change in his assessment of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who Trump has spoken of admiringly in the past. He says both countries have agreed that their lines of communications must stay open. Still, the decision to launch missile strikes in response to use of chemicals heralded the end of US inaction in Syria and reminded all players that the U.S.is still in the game.
The UN Security Council is set to vote Wednesday on a resolution demanding the Syrian government cooperate with an investigation into the attack - a measure Russian Federation will likely veto, diplomats said.
Trump's comments on the state of U.S.
"The Syrian regime and its primary backer, Russia, have sought to confuse the world community about who is responsible for using chemical weapons against the Syrian people in this and earlier attacks", said a document based on declassified intelligence that was released after the briefing.
Beyond Syria, Russia's alleged meddling in the US presidential election also hovered over what was the first face-to-face encounter between Putin and any Trump administration Cabinet member. The diplomats know each other well from Tillerson's days as Exxon Mobil CEO.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov began the meeting with Tillerson in Moscow with a warning for the US - do not strike the Syrian regime again - after last week's missile strike plunged US-Russian relations to one of the lowest points since the Cold War.
"Syria is dying while 'the world is watching.' With chemical and conventional weapons used by the Assad regime, not only Syrian women and children but also our humanity is dying", he said.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday that those strikes were not as effective as the USA claims.
"There is a low level of trust between our two countries", Tillerson told reporters in Moscow.
Before flying to Moscow, Tillerson issued an ultimatum to Putin: Either side with the US and likeminded countries, or with Assad, Iran and the militant group Hezbollah. But Tillerson repeated the administration's new belief that "the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end".
Russian President Vladimir Putin says Syria doesn't have chemical weapons and condemned the USA strike as "an act of aggression". "We consider it of utmost importance to prevent the risks of replay of similar action in the future".
Lavrov spoke Wednesday after several hours of talks with Tillerson that focused on tensions over Syria sparked by a chemical attack that killed more than 80.
Later in the interview, however, Spicer clarified that the USA wants to "bring stability" to the region.
But the images in the aftermath of the chemical attack moved President Trump to act, launching 59 Tomahawk missiles at the airbase where the planes that carried out the attack were based, U.S. officials said.
In the briefing Tuesday, Putin suggested that Russian Federation and Syria were being demonized for the purposes of politics.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Wednesday said that the president was not ruling out another attack on Syrian government installations if Assad continued to use chemical weapons against civilians.
Tillerson, on a mission to persuade Russian Federation to abandon Assad, issued an ultimatum to Putin before flying to Moscow: Either side with the USA and likeminded countries, or with Assad, Iran and the militant group Hezbollah.
But he also appeared to rule out deeper involvement, saying: "Are we going to get involved with Syria? No".