G7 seeks united front on Assad, Russia
Last weeks suspected chemical attack in Syria and Russias support for the Bashar al-Assad regime were likely to top the agenda as G7 Foreign Ministers on Monday gathered for a meeting in Italy.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson struck a hardline note over the weekend, telling CBS News that the Russians had failed to prevent the Syrian regime from carrying out a chemical attack on a rebel-held town in Idlib province which left 89 people dead. Tillerson is due to travel to Moscow on Tuesday and has pledged to take a "clear and coordinated message" to his scheduled talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. The meeting in the Italian city of Lucca brings together foreign ministers from the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. It had been expected that ministers would focus on hotspots such as Libya, Iran and Ukraine, but top of the agenda is the attack on Syria's Khan Sheikhun, and the US cruise missiles fired at a Syrian airbase in retaliation, the Guardian reported. The meeting will also focus on North Korea's intention to continue its nuclear and missile weapons programme, the situation in Iraq and the complete integration of Iran in the international community. The two-day meet, which is a precursor to the G7
summit in May in the Italian city of Taormina, comes at a time of increasing concern among Western nations over terrorist threats and conflicts in the Middle East. Efforts to reach an agreement on statements and strategy ahead of time - a normal part of pre-meeting G7 diplomacy - has gone very slowly.
G7 foreign ministers seek US clarity over Syria
Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven major industrialised nations met on Monday for an annual gathering, with Europe and Japan seeking clarity from the United States on an array of issues, especially Syria. The two-day summit in Tuscany comes as the US moves a Navy strike group near the Korean peninsular amid concerns over North Korea's nuclear ambitions, and as the West's relations with Russia struggle to overcome years of mistrust. But the civil war in Syria is likely to dominate talks, with Italy hoping for a final communique with UN to end the war.
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