Trump administration sends mixed signals on Syria ahead of G7 meeting

by Frankie Norman April 11, 2017, 0:24

"And I think that's when the president will make his decisions", said Nikki Haley, the us ambassador to the United Nations, during an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union".

But Secretary Tillerson called Russian Federation "incompetent" for allowing Syria to hold on to chemical weapons in interviews on Sunday, while America's United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley told CNN her country wanted regime change. "That really hasn't changed".

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Syria's civil war, with its many factions and feuding terrorist cells, rests at the heart of the policy dilemma. I think it's based on assumptions that quite frankly are not the right ones.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump said defeating Islamic State was a higher priority than persuading Assad to step down.

With the repercussions continuing from last week's chemical weapons attack on civilians in Khan Sheikhun and a retaliatory U.S. strike on a Syrian government airbase, the Russian foreign ministry and embassy in London belittled Britain's role in the crisis.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stated that a political solution in Syria is not possible until Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is removed from power, in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper that aired on Sunday.

With US politicians calling on Mr Trump to consult with congress, government officials sent mixed signals on the scope of future US involvement.

There has been no Syrian retaliation so far for the cruise missile attack, which destroyed or rendered inoperable more than 20 Syria air force planes, he said.

The secretary of state said the USA priority remains to defeat ISIS.

Joining Trump at the president's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, Tillerson was supposed to focus on the informal summit with Xi.

"We need to make it clear to Putin that the time to back Assad has gone", Johnson said on Monday, warning that Putin was "damaging Russia" by supporting Assad. He alluded to the American retaliatory airstrikes in Syria after Damascus launched a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of people and sickened hundreds more.

A senior USA official told the news outlet that the presence of a drone, controlled by Russian Federation, over the hospital where victims were being treated following the attack was not a coincidence. The U.K. wants the sanctions to be adopted by the European Union and US for maximum impact.

The foreign secretary had been due to arrive in Moscow for talks on Monday with Lavrov, but the UK Foreign Office said these were called off due to "Russia's continued defence of the Assad regime".

Cohen, a conservative critic of Trump's foreign policy who has chided Tillerson for his reticence, said he saw Tillerson growing into the job.

Group of Seven foreign ministers are sitting down in Italy for their first roundtable session at a meeting dominated by Syria's civil war and Russia's role in it.

"But clearly, they've been incompetent, and perhaps they've just simply been out-maneuvered by the Syrians", Tillerson added.

Before flying to Moscow, Tillerson also plans to meet Tuesday with counterparts from Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates about the USA response to the Syrian chemical weapons attack.

Russian Federation plans to put forward a proposal on Monday for an independent and impartial investigation of the attack, a spokesman for German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in Berlin.

Pressed on whether the United Kingdom would back further USA action if the regime were to repeat its use of chemical weapons, her spokesman said: "What they have said is that they are not planning any further strikes but they could reconsider if they (the Syrians) use chemical weapons again".

"Returning to pseudo-attempts to resolve the crisis by repeating mantras that Assad must step down can not help sort things out".


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