Russia-Syria Ties to Dominate G7 Meeting of Foreign Ministers

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley [profile] told CNN in an interview set to air Sunday that removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [Al Jazeera profile] from power in Syria is one of the top priorities of Donald Trump's administration.

"In no way do we look at peace happening in that area with Iranian influence". Haley said. "The U.S. sees yesterday's attack as a disgrace at the highest level, an assurance that humanity means nothing to the Syrian government".

The U.S. envoy said "regime change is something that we think is going to happen" in Syria, but she stopped short of suggesting Washington would directly seek that outcome.

Earlier this year, Assad said that the country's government had never used weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, against the Syrian people.

Graham also argued Sunday that the United States is "relying too much" on the Kurds in that region to defeat ISIS and that additional USA troops would attract more regional fighters in that effort.

But he said the United States expected Russian Federation to take a tougher stance by rethinking its alliance with Assad because "every time one of these horrific attacks occurs, it draws Russian Federation closer into some level of responsibility".

Tillerson said the chemical attack had been preceded by two others in March.

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

If Syria carries out any further chemical attacks, "that is going to be clearly very damaging to US-Russian relations", Tillerson warned. The Syrian government has denied it was behind the attack.

Russian Federation had agreed to "be the guarantor of the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles. the result of their failure has led to the killing of more children and innocents", Mr Tillerson added.

But Ms Haley warned that the USA was prepared to "do more" if needed, leaving the door open for more military intervention as the global community awaits a response from President Assad and his allies.

Taken together, the comments of Haley and Tillerson suggested senior members of Trump's foreign policy team may be seeking to shape the president's views, with Haley more opposed than Tillerson to Assad remaining in power.

However, "whether Russian Federation was complicit here or whether they were simply incompetent or whether they got outwitted" by the Syrian government, they had "failed in their commitment to the worldwide community", he said. "But until then, you have to prove to me that these people are being vetted in a way that we're not putting American citizens at risk, '" she argued.

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