The Latest: UK’s Johnson says more Russia sanctions possible
LUCCA, Italy (AP) — The Latest on the meeting of the foreign minister of the Group of Seven (all times local):
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says there could still be new sanctions imposed on Russian military officers over their support for the Syrian government — even though G-7 allies ignored his call for new punitive measures against Moscow.
The G-7 has called for an independent international investigation into last week’s chemical attack in Syria, and Johnson says depending on what it finds “those responsible for unleashing those chemical weapons” could face sanctions — including Russian officers.
He says he agrees with other EU leaders that Russia needs to be part of the solution in Syria, but must abandon its support for President Bashar Assad to do so.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Russia must choose between aligning itself with the U.S. and likeminded countries or embracing Syrian President Bashar Assad, Iran and the militant group Hezbollah.
Tillerson says it’s unclear whether Russia failed to take seriously its obligations in Syria or has been incompetent. But he says that distinction “doesn’t much matter to the dead.”
He says of the recent chemical attack: “We cannot let this happen again.”
Tillerson says the U.S. sees no future role for Assad in Syria, but he says the U.S. isn’t pre-supposing how Assad’s departure will occur.
Tillerson is traveling Tuesday to Moscow. He says Russia can play a role in Syria’s future but that aligning with Assad won’t serve Russia’s long-term interests.
Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano says there is “no consensus” among G-7 countries for new sanctions on Russia over its support for Syria’s Bashar Assad.
Alfano says the idea was raised at a meeting in Lucca, Italy, by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
But Alfano said isolating Russia or pushing it into a corner “would be wrong.”
He says “the G-7′s position is very clear — supporting the existing sanctions” against Russia over its military activities in Ukraine.
Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano says Russia must not be “pushed into a corner” over Syria, as the Group of Seven ignored calls by Britain and the U.S. for new sanctions on Moscow over its support of President Bashar Assad.
Alfano says Russia should put pressure on Assad to stop the use of chemical weapons, and should join an international push for peace in Syria.
Ending a G-7 foreign ministers meeting, he says “we must have a dialogue with Russia.”
Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations are expected to call Tuesday for a new international push to end the war in Syria, but are divided on whether to threaten new sanctions or other tough measures to pressure Russia over its support of President Bashar Assad.
The G-7 blames Assad’s military for a deadly chemical attack last week. Ministers meeting in Lucca, central Italy, have strongly supported U.S. missile strikes that targeted a Syrian air base believed to have been used to launch the attack.
Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said the U.S. intervention had offered “a window of opportunity to construct a new positive condition for the political process in Syria.”
But he said a political rather than military process was “the only solution,” according to Italian news agency ANSA.