The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, used a visit to an Italian war memorial on Monday to declare that the US would stand up to aggressors who harm civilians, as preparations were under way in nearby Lucca for a meeting of G7 foreign ministers that was expected to be dominated by the suspected chemical attack in Syria.
Tillerson travelled to Sant'Anna di Stazzema, the Tuscan village where the Nazis massacred more than 500 civilians, and alluded to last week's retaliatory missile strike on Syria as he laid a wreath. "We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world," he said in short statement. "This place will serve as an inspiration to us all."
Amid increased tensions between the west and Russia over Syria, Tillerson struck a hardline note over the weekend, telling CBS that the Russians had "failed in their commitment to the international community" by not preventing the Syrian regime from carrying out the attack on a rebel-held town in Idlib province.
He said there was no evidence to suggest Russia was involved in the attack, but argued that it had agreed to "be the guarantor of the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles" and that "the result of their failure has led to the killing of more children and innocents" .The meeting in the Italian city of Lucca brings together foreign ministers from the US and Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Tillerson met his UK counterpart, Boris Johnson, for bilateral talks ahead of the full G7 meeting. It had been expected that ministers would focus on hotspots such as Libya, Iran and Ukraine, but top of the agenda now is the attack on Khan Sheikhun, which killed at least 87 people, and the US cruise missiles fired at a Syrian airbase in retaliation.
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.
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said at the weekend that she saw regime change in Syria as one of the Trump administration's priorities in the country. "There's not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime," Haley told CNN.
The UK has sought to step back from talk of more military action over Syria, stressing Theresa May is intent on seeking a long-term political settlement while also warning that Russia could face new sanctions over its support for the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.(Source: The Guardian)