Moscow to Tillerson: U.S. strike on Syrian air base must not be repeated

Moscow believes that measures such as last week’s U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base must not be repeated, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday, Russian state media reported.

President Trump ordered the strikes in retaliation for a chemical attack that killed at least 86 people that the U.S. blames on the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Tillerson was meeting with Lavrov on Wednesday, as the United States urges Russia to end its support for  Assad.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Putin could meet with Tillerson “if it is decided” that he needs to be briefed on the outcome of the talks.

"Most recently, we saw rather alarming steps, when an unlawful attack against Syria was carried out," Lavrov said at the meeting with Tillerson, Russian news agency TASS reported.

"Russia’s leadership has already voiced its principal assessments in this respect. We believe it is of principal importance to prevent risks of a repeat of such steps in the future," he added.

The White House has said there is overwhelming evidence that Syria used a sarin nerve agent and that Russia is trying to help Assad's government cover up the illegal use of chemical weapons.

Putin has said that Russia will appeal to the United Nations to investigate the chemical attack. He told Russian broadcaster Mir TV that the U.S. broke international law by striking the airbase without providing evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, TASS reported Wednesday.

On Tuesday at a G7 summit in Italy, Tillerson said Russia must choose between aligning itself with the U.S. and other Western nations or Assad, Iran and the militant group Hezbollah.

President Trump told Fox Business Network’s Mornings with Maria that Putin is "backing a person that's truly an evil person" in his support for Assad in an interview that will air Wednesday morning.

Russia's foreign ministry said it hoped for constructive talks with Tillerson on the eve of the meetings.

"In the course of the forthcoming talks we would like to realize first and foremost to what extent the United States is aware of the need for stabilization and normalization of bilateral relations," the ministry said in a statement carried by TASS on Tuesday.

Russia is also hoping Tillerson's trip will help it better understand Washington’s plans for North Korea, TASS reported.

USA Today


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