Friday, 23 June, 2017

Russia vetoes UN resolution to condemn Syria chemical attack

Russia says some progress made on Syria after Tillerson Moscow talks Putin-Trump 'bromance' disproven
Saul Franklin | 14 April, 2017, 16:29

Syria and its ally Russian Federation deny Damascus carried out any such chemical attack.

Could Syria have launched the chemical weapons attack with Russia's advance knowledge?

Russia, meanwhile, intervened in the civil war on Assad's side in 2015 and has troops on the ground, which it says are advising government forces.

But Lavrov, on Thursday, offered a speck of optimism for the future of the relationship between the two Cold War foes.

United States officials have said that there is "no doubt" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the attack. Russian Federation says opposition forces dispersed whatever chemical agent was found, which the Trump administration calls a disinformation campaign.

Despite remarks by both diplomats that their nations have many common interests, Lavrov rehashed an extended list of Russian grievances, from NATO's actions in Kosovo in 1999 to USA attempts to remove dictators from Sudan to Libya.

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.

The G7 meeting of the world's most industrialized countries on Tuesday called for Russia, Iran and Turkey to ensure that a Syrian cease-fire declared at the end of previous year is observed.

He said U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson is considering the request.

Russia's relationship with the US has deteriorated since Trump assumed the Oval Office, Putin said in an interview aired Wednesday. US intelligence agencies have said similar. He tells Fox Business Network that Putin's support for Assad is "very bad for Russian Federation".

The two engaged in "frank and substantial talks", Lavrov said.

He also rejected American claims of certain evidence that Assad ordered the chemical attack.

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Tillerson travelled to Moscow with a joint message from Western powers that Russian Federation should withdraw its support for Assad after a meeting of the Group of Seven industrialised economies also attended by Middle East allies.

"The level of trust at the working level, especially at the military level, has not become better but most likely has degraded", Putin said in an interview broadcast Wednesday by state television channel Mir.

"There is a low level of trust between our two countries", Tillerson said.

But such hopes appeared optimistic as the diplomats outlined their sharply diverging views on Syria. But Tillerson repeated the administration's new belief that "the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end". Tillerson reiterated Washington is "quite confident" that the recent chemical attack was planned and executed by Syrian government forces, which involved chlorine bombs and other chemical weapons on more than 50 occasions. And he suggested that possible war crimes charges could be levied against the Syrian leader.

Mr Assad said Syria would only allow an "impartial" investigation into the poison gas incident.

Only weeks ago, it appeared that Trump, who lavishly praised Putin throughout the campaign, was poised for a potentially historic rapprochement with Russian Federation. He says that makes it hard to have clarity about US positions. Tillerson is a former oil executive who was awarded Russia's Order of Friendship by Putin.

The vote came after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow to discuss the escalating tensions in Syria.

"Two litres of sarin were transported from Libya through Turkey to terrorist groups in Syria", he said, adding that the government does "not have these weapons".

Trump and others have indeed threatened similar action. Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday the military was prepared to act and Assad would "pay a very, very stiff price" if he uses chemical weapons again, Reuters reported. "We don't have an arsenal, we're not going to use it". "But if I see them using gas.we have to do something".

Lavrov also said Russian Federation expects the U.S.to take part in a meeting on Afghanistan this week.

Haley, the United Nations envoy, said removing Assad from power was a priority, whereas Tillerson said he merely "hoped" the Syrian people would choose to oust Assad and reiterated that defeating ISIS was the US' first priority in Syria.

Last week's poison gas attack and the U.S. retaliation upended what many in Moscow hoped would be a transformation in relations between the two countries, which reached a post-Cold War low under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama.

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