Domingo, 15 Julio, 2018

Tillerson: Russia must choose between Assad and the US

U.S. air strikes Friday destroyed aircraft shelters on the southeast side of the Shayrat air base in Syria U.S. air strikes Friday destroyed aircraft shelters on the southeast side of the Shayrat air base in Syria
Eleena Tovar | 12 Abril, 2017, 16:24

Tillerson will take with him to Moscow a statement the G7 ministers issued Tuesday calling on Russian Federation to join the West in resolving Syria's civil war and ending Assad's reign. Instead, the United States is hoping to use the visit, the first by a Trump Cabinet official to Russia, to convey its expectations to Moscow and then allow the Russians a period of time to respond.

However, President Trump said the United States was "not going into Syria". "Russian Federation can be a part of that future and play an important role", Tillerson added in remarks to reporters.

On his way into the meeting with Tillerson, Lavrov said he believed the visit was timely as Russian Federation saw what it called "troubling actions" last week in Syria, a reference to the US bombing an air field in that country.

The Secretary of State said he hoped "to further clarify areas of sharp difference so we can better understand why these differences exist and what the prospects for narrowing these differences might be". He also said it was important the two governments maintain open lines of communication.

President Donald Trump is trying to clear up his administration's message on next steps for Syria after he ordered a missile strike against an airbase in the country last week.

"We're not going into Syria", Trump told Maria Bartiromo during an exclusive interview on FOX Business. "I think it's very bad for mankind".

Neither the Russians nor their client Assad will have much reason to heed Trump's newly stated determination to halt what Hof calls Assad's "mass homicide" of his own people. Trump said former President Obama should have taken action during his tenure in the White House.

"The level of trust at the working level, especially at the military level, has not improved, but most likely has been degraded", Putin said remarks on the Mir television channel.

Mr Tillerson had earlier attended a G7 meeting in the Italian town of Lucca aimed at hammering out a unified approach to Syria before he headed to Moscow. Though the Kremlin had declined to say whether the leaders would meet, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday: "There is a certain likelihood".

The Russians are likely to take the U.S. with new seriousness if they sense Washington is done with overlooking Assad's assault on Syrians and his central role in a war that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, sent millions fleeing to refuge around the Middle East and Europe, and created a vacuum for ISIS to occupy, says Ambassador Hof, who was special adviser on transition in Syria to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But it's clear that relations are already rocky between Trump and Russian Federation.

Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy of the Russian General Staff said in televised remarks that Russia will provide security for global inspectors seeking to examine Syrian bases, and that Damascus has agreed to allow the inspections.

"Our policy is consistent and it's formulated exclusively on the basis of worldwide law and not under the impact of current opportunistic motives or false choice: 'You are with us or against us, '" Lavrov told Tillerson. He maintained that the US's "military priority in Syria has not changed", and that "the Syrian regime should think long and hard" before it uses chemical weapons again.

Mattis also said that the United States had taken precautions to avoid killing Russian military personnel at the Syrian airfield.

"We reject any accusations to this effect and would like to remind everyone that Russian Federation has been the only country to demand an unbiased global inquiry into the circumstances of the use of toxic chemicals near Idlib from the very start", Peskov said.