Russia's Putin starts meeting with Tillerson in Kremlin

Cheryl Sanders
April 13, 2017

During his presidential election campaign, Trump said he would like the U.S. to have better relations with Russian Federation.

But it must first decide which side it is going to stand on, Tillerson warned.

Tillerson faulted Russian Federation for failing to guarantee that Syria was free of chemical weapons, as stipulated in worldwide agreements in 2013: "It is unclear whether Russian Federation failed to take this obligation seriously or Russian Federation has been incompetent, but this distinction doesn't much matter to the dead".

Russia has "absolutely reliable information" that the Idlib incident happened after Syrian SU-22 jets struck a store controlled by terrorists for manufacturing chemical weapons to be used in Syria and Iraq, Russian's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday.

He did not offer any proof for that assertion.

When asked why military force is justified in response to the killing of Syrian civilians with chemical weapons, but not when they are attacked with conventional arms, Mattis said "there is a what we can do" to stop the civil war, whereas the chemical attack could not go unanswered. "Is that a long-term alliance that serves Russia's interest?"

For his part, Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said earlier that Russian Federation is not taking the necessary action following the violation of the truce in Syria. It said the outcome of the discussions is important not only for the Russia-U.S. relationship, but "for the overall atmosphere on the world stage".

In an interview aired the same day on Fox Business, Trump criticized Putin for his continued support of Assad, whom Trump called "evil" and "an animal".

Mattis said the USA began "a deliberate process led by the National Security Council to recommend diplomatic and military options to the president".

Foreign ministers from Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates joined their counterparts from the G-7 countries to address the conflict in Syria days after the USA responded to the chemical attack with a cruise missile strike on a Syrian government air base. Washington says it has no doubt about Assad's responsibility.

"Our priority remains the defeat of ISIS", Mattis said, labelling the terror group "a clear and present danger". "As always, we examined how best to avoid civilian casualties in the execution of the strike and our actions were successful".

He did say that America's policy in Syria has not changed. We want to create a future for Syria that is stable and secure.

He said Moscow has lots of questions about the "very ambiguous" and "contradictory" ideas emanating from Washington.

The meeting took place as G7 ministers met in Italy to discuss issues including the ongoing crisis in Syria. And U.S. officials had accused Russian Federation of covering up Assad's chemical weapons attack on civilians.

The draft resolution expresses "horror" at the reported use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhun and condemns the alleged attack on April 4.

The Putin-Tillerson meeting was believed to be the first between the Russian President and a top member of Mr Trump's administration since the United States businessman took office in January. The consequences of any further US action in Syria can be destabilizing.

Lavrov, echoing Putin, warned Tillerson that the US air strike was wrong and should not be repeated.

Other reports by iNewsToday