Monday, 20 November, 2017

In explaining his reasons for the Syria strike, Trump focuses on Obama

Saul Franklin | 13 April, 2017, 02:31

But even more crucially, it would cast Russian Federation as a loser in the six-year Syrian conflict, dealing a blow to its aspirations to regain Soviet-era global clout and prestige.

The two top diplomats are sitting down together in Moscow on Wednesday for what are expected to be painstaking talks, after a chemical attack in northwestern Syria plunged the old Cold War enemies to a new low.

"The working level of confidence in Russian-American relations, especially at the military level, under the administration of Donald Trump, has not improved, but rather worsened".

A White House memo to the press last week mentioned a meeting between Putin and Tillerson had been scheduled, but the Kremlin appeared to have rolled back on the talks as the Syria rift worsened. The diplomats know each other well from Tillerson's days as Exxon Mobil CEO.

Still, Tillerson was greeted frostily in the Russian capital as Lavrov began their meeting Wednesday by demanding to know America's "real intentions".

"I want to make sure that we don't overreact in the USA and think that there is some military solution and think that we can go in there and go to war, not just with Syria but with Russian Federation and Iran and not cause even more damage than is now being caused", Smith said.

"It is of paramount importance to avert risks and recurrences of such actions in the future", he added.

Even the one significant agreement Moscow suggested had been reached to investigate last week's chemical weapons attack in Syria was quickly rejected by Washington.

President Trump then mistakenly said: "So what happens is I said, 'We have just launched 59 missiles, heading to Iraq.'" He was corrected by interviewer Maria Bartiromo, at which point Trump corrected himself, saying: "Yes heading toward Syria".

More than 80 people were killed in what the USA has described as a nerve gas attack that Syrian president Bashar Assad's forces undoubtedly carried out. Now, are we going to get involved with Syria?

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Lavrov says Russian Federation has lots of questions about the "very ambiguous" and "contradictory" ideas coming from the U.S. He says through a translator that it's important for Russian Federation to understand the "real intentions" of the Trump administration. "We made a determination to do it, so the missiles were on the way".

"Our meeting today comes at an important moment in our relationship so that we can further clarify areas of common objectives, areas of common interest, even where our tactical approaches may be different, and further clarify areas of sharp difference so that we can better understand why these differences exist", he said.

The two stood in front of their respective flags beneath a grand chandelier and took their seats on opposite sides of a meters-long table, from which Lavrov delivered his welcome. Mr Trump said it was "certainly possible" though "probably unlikely".

The chemical weapons attack, Putin said in the interview, is either the result of a Syrian government airstrike hitting a rebel stockpile or was staged to put fault on Assad. "No", Trump said in the interview, which aired Wednesday in the U.S.

Putin suggested on Monday that forces within Syria were plotting more chemical attacks, including near Damascus, that they meant to pin on the Syrian regime.

Moscow has insisted that the civilians who died there were killed by toxic agents released from a rebel chemical arsenal struck by Syrian warplanes.

What is the US' Syria policy?

Days after that attack, President Trump ordered a cruise missile strike that targeted a Syrian air base - a strike that Russian Federation says violated worldwide law.

While most immediate, US-Russian dispute concerned culpability for the chemical weapons, broader disagreements over everything from Ukraine to Russia's support for once-fringe candidates in European elections were among other sore points.

Responding to a question about the danger of their antagonistic positions related to Syria spiralling into "a conflict between the two nuclear-powered countries", Mr. Mattis said during a briefing at the Pentagon: "It will not spiral out of control". He has made some comments to Fox News on Syria, saying he did not plan for the U.S. to be drawn fully into the Syrian war. "I think it's very bad for mankind". Aides later clarified that this "did not signal a change in administration policy". "Our priority remains the defeat of ISIS", Mattis told reporters.

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