Nikki Haley says there cannot be political solution in Syria with Assad in power
Cris De Lacerda
12 Abril, 2017, 19:02
But the White House has also said Trump could authorise more strikes if Syria uses chemical weapons again.
Mattis, speaking alongside U.S. Central Command head Gen. Joseph Votel, provided more details about why the Trump administration ordered U.S. warships to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base last week.
Washington's missile strike was the first time it had intervened directly against the regime of Assad, who is fighting a civil war with the backing of Russian Federation and Iran.
G7 foreign ministers sat down early on Tuesday with their counterparts from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar - all of whom oppose Assad's rule - to discuss the six-year-old civil war in Syria.
Tillerson, the first Trump cabinet member to visit Moscow, acknowledged that the former Cold War foes had "sharp differences" but pledged to continue talking.
His comments came shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow will appeal to the United Nations to investigate the attack on Khan Sheikhoun.
Mattis warned, "The Syrian regime should think long and hard before it again acts so recklessly in violation of global law against the use of chemical weapons".
Before the April 4 chemical attack, the administration appeared resigned to letting Mr. Assad's government, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, continue gaining the upper hand in a six-year-long civil war that has claimed at least 400,000 lives.
President Donald Trump has said that the horrific images from a chemical weapons attack in Syria forced him to authorize a missile strike last week.
But US officials later walked back Spicer's remarks.
But Russia made clear it had no intention to acquiesce.
Indeed, if all Trump's airstrike does is give Assad a refresher course in the lesson Hof says the Syrian ruler learned from Obama's "red line" on chemical-weapons use in 2013 - that "I can use anything I want to attack anything I want, including schools, hospitals ... as long as I don't do it with chemicals" - then nothing will have changed. "Russian Federation can be a part of that future and play an important role", Tillerson added in remarks to reporters.
The two leaders were looking to Tillerson's trip to Moscow this week as an opportunity to lay the groundwork for a "lasting political settlement", May's office said.
In what was effectively an ultimatum, Tillerson on Tuesday said that Moscow must calculate the costs of remaining an ally of Assad, the Iranians and Lebanon's Shiite militia Hezbollah.
Several rounds of UN-backed peace talks have failed to end the Syrian conflict, which has killed more than 320,000 people since March 2011.
At the talks, Tillerson will challenge Russian Federation to distance itself from Assad and his Iranian backers and to work with Washington's Western and Arab allies to find a political solution to the conflict with Syria under new leadership.
Russian Federation says the chemicals that killed civilians last week belonged to rebels, not Assad's government, and accused the United States of an illegal aggression on a false pretext.
America, France, and the United Kingdom proposed various UN resolutions against Syria, but each time Moscow opposed its veto in favour of its Syrian ally.
"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.
In his opening remarks, Lavrov also took a subtle dig at the Trump administration, saying it was hard to get clarity on USA stances since there are so many vacancies in top positions at the State Department.