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Chemical attack: US Sec. of State criticizes Russia

US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson has criticized Russia, saying it had failed to prevent Syria from carrying out a chemical attack on a rebel-held town.

He said Russia had agreed to ensure Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles were destroyed and its failure to do this enabled the attack.

G7 foreign ministers are preparing to meet in Italy later on Monday.

Talks will focus on how to increase pressure on Russia to distance itself from Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad.

On Tuesday, Mr. Tillerson will continue from the G7 to Moscow, where he will meet his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

Mr. Tillerson wants to go to Moscow to confront the Russians with a strong set of demands backed by key US allies. But Mr. Tillerson made clear over the weekend that Washington still regards the number one priority in Syria to be the elimination of so-called Islamic State.

The next two days will be dominated by a collective search for arguments to persuade President Vladimir Putin to end Russia’s military support for President Assad and help accelerate a negotiated political transition.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is expected to press the case for new sanctions against Russia if they don’t give ground.

Meanwhile, Russia and Iran, President Assad’s key military backers, are threatening retaliation if there are any further American air strikes and the task of breaking the present deadlocks over Syria remains enormous.

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