Tillerson gives Russian Federation stark choice in Syria conflict

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Secretary of state Rex W. Tillerson is taking a hard line against Russian Federation on the eve of his first diplomatic trip to Moscow, calling the country "incompetent" for allowing Syria to hold on to chemical weapons and accusing Russian Federation of trying to influence elections in Europe using the same methods it employed in the US.

The US has said the Pentagon is looking for any evidence the Russian government knew about or was complicit in the chemical attack. Secondly, we don't see a peaceful Syria with Assad in there.

But Tillerson was more equivocal, saying that the priority was the defeat of ISIS.

"I don't draw conclusions of complicity at all, but clearly they've been incompetent and perhaps they've just simply been out-maneuvered by the Syrians", he told ABC's "This Week".

US Senator John McCain said stopping President Assad's "murderous rampage" does not preclude America from fighting the Islamic State group.

Mattis says the USA and Russian Federation are maintaining military and diplomatic communications.

Haley said that the Trump administration's view was that a political solution would not happen with Assad in power, though she stopped short of saying Assad's departure was now official USA policy.

"I think it's also worth thinking about [how] Russian Federation has really aligned itself with the Assad regime", Tillerson said.

Moscow has said Washington lacks a strategy in Syria, though Tillerson is expected to propose that Russian Federation change its own strategy and drop support for Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

Tillerson says the US sees no future role for Assad in Syria, but he says the USA isn't pre-supposing how Assad's departure will occur.

He noted that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Moscow Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is to meet U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday. As he laid a wreath, he alluded to the Syria chemical attack.

Foreign ministers of the G7 group of nations, which include the US, Japan, Britain and Germany, were gathering in Lucca, Italy, on Monday, where Syria was likley to dominate the agenda.

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The decision to carry out strikes against the regime and the change in tone from Haley follows US President Donald Trump's comments that the chemical attack "crossed a lot of lines for me".

The Kremlin condemned US military strikes against Syrian regime targets, which were launched in retaliation for a chemical attack that left more than 80 civilians dead.

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the strike on the phone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Sunday.

In a statement issued by the Kremlin, Russia and Iran both called for an "objective, unbiased" investigation into the chemical attack that provoked the strikes.

Although Syria dominated discussion, the diplomats met as the United States is sending a Navy carrier strike group toward the Korean Peninsula in a show of strength following North Korea's persistent ballistic missile tests. "Repeating this action can be very unsafe for the region", he said.

Tillerson and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, spoke by phone on Saturday, according to a statement posted on the official Facebook page of the Russian Foreign Ministry, which said the U.S. had initiated the call.

United States officials said the strike against the Shayrat airbase was meant to send a message to the regime, but new airstrikes on Saturday targeted Khan Sheikhoun, the same town hit by the chemical attack on Tuesday.

But there have been repeated allegations of chemical weapons use by the government since then.

The results were announced as the Russian military said the Syrian government is willing to let worldwide experts examine its military base for signs of chemical weapons.

In fact, an administration official was cited telling the Associated Press that it actually helped Syria cover up its use of the illegal weapon. "And we believe that the first priority is the defeat of ISIS", he told CBS television's "Face the Nation" being broadcast later Sunday.

"Regime change is something that we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that Assad is not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria".

"He's going to keep his cards close to the vest", Spicer said of the president.

"Countries that have been supportive of the Assad regime bear some of the responsibility for the chemical attacks on innocents", he said. "Our priority is no longer to sit and focus on getting Assad out", Haley had told reporters on March 30.

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