May, Trump agree Russia should break ties with Assad - UK PM's office

Posted April 13, 2017

While Syria's conflict may be the most immediate and visible crisis for the United States and Russian Federation, it is only one item on the complex and interwoven agenda for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's talks in Moscow.

U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson arrived in Moscow on Tuesday for talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. US officials in Washington have also raised that prospect.

Russian Federation has defended the Syrian government, a staunch ally, against USA allegations it was behind the nerve gas attack in Syria's Idlib province last week which killed scores, saying there is no evidence to underpin such an allegation. "I welcome this renewed harmony".

But he stopped short of directly calling for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying the U.S.

Russian Federation and Iran are the strongest backers of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In prepared remarks, Tillerson said Russian Federation had not upheld its agreements under the U.N. Security Council with regards to controlling and destroying Syrian weapons stockpiles.

"The United States will not passively stand by while Assad murders innocent people with chemical weapons, which are prohibited by global law and which were declared destroyed", Pentagon chief James Mattis said Monday.

He is accusing Syrian rebels of staging the chemical weapons attack.

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The government of President Bashar al-Assad carried out the assault on 4 April in Idlib province to hit rebels in the area, the report said.

"I think it is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end", Tillerson said of Russia's ally.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due to travel to Moscow this week and the spokeswoman for May said the two leaders had agreed during their conversation that the visit was an opportunity to make progress towards a solution. He says that makes it hard to have clarity about US positions.

Since ordering the strike on the Shayrat airbase in western Syria, the USA has been sending mixed signals.

"It reminds me of the events in 2003 when USA envoys to the Security Council were demonstrating what they said were chemical weapons found in Iraq", Putin told reporters Tuesday, according to a translation by The Associated Press.

Until Monday, U.S. officials had said they weren't sure whether Russian Federation or Syria operated the drone.

"Mattis called Friday's strike a "measured response" to the government's use of chemical weapons". Central Command, whose forces executed the cruise missile attack, which Votel said "severely degraded" Syria's ability to use the airfield.

Tillerson was due to spend the night in Moscow before holding talks on Wednesday with his opposite number Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.