Monday, 11 December, 2017

Russia vetoes UN resolution on Syria attack, China abstains

Erik Tate | 17 April, 2017, 05:44

Most recently, the relationship between the two nations has been complicated by their positions on Syria, tension that was evident at a Wednesday press conference with Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The civil war is separate from the US-led effort against the Islamic State group in the north of the country.

The news conference came after Mr Putin met Mr Tillerson for the first time since Mr Trump took office.

Mr Tillerson reiterated the USA position that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must eventually relinquish power in Syria, a position starkly at odds with Russian Federation.

The country's top two diplomats have admitted that there is little trust between them. "The world's two foremost nuclear powers can not have this kind of relationship".

It came as the two nations agreed to co-operate on an global investigation into the Syrian chemical weapons attack last week that prompted retaliatory American missile strikes. As evidence, Lavrov critically recalled USA interventions in Iraq, Libya and Yugoslavia that he said resulted in increased instability.

"We want to hear concrete proof and then we will respond accordingly", Mr Lavrov said. There were no signs that would support the statement, the allegation that chemical agents were used there at all.

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Tillerson has indicated he will be pressing Russian Federation on its alliance with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and whether it's a relationship that in the long term will serve Russia's interests. "We're going to see how that all works out".

The official stressed that the intelligence community was not aware of the attack before it happened, noting that the USA intercepts such massive quantities of communications in Syria that they can't immediately be processed.

Stopping just short of accusing Russian Federation of complicity with the sarin gas attack against civilians April 4, Trump said it's "certainly possible" that Russian Federation had advance knowledge of the use of chemical weapons by its ally.

The chill in Moscow today was a far cry from the atmosphere a year ago.

Finally, the New York Times reports that Trump's rapidly changing positions on Syria, Russia, and a host of other global issues are giving leaders around the world "geopolitical whiplash".

"The principle of "innocent until proven guilty" has to be respected", Lavrov said. But in a Fox Business Network interview, the United States president said he wouldn't intervene militarily against Assad unless the Syrian leader resorts to using weapons of mass destruction again.

The US military fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a military airfield in Syria's Homs province overnight to April 7 on instructions issued by President Donald Trump. Until the chemical attack, the Trump administration had sought to step back from the United States position that Assad should leave power. "I like to think they didn't know. It's very bad for this world", Trump told Fox Business News. "Right now, we're not getting along with Russian Federation at all". Russian Federation says rebels were responsible for whatever chemical agent was used, which the Trump administration calls a disinformation campaign. "This has built for a long period of time, but we'll see what happens".

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