G-7 ministers appeal to Russia on Syria but reject sanctions

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Sunday played down concerns of a rift with Russian Federation over Ankara's support for the strike, saying Turkey was committed to the cease-fire mechanisms it has developed with Russian Federation for Syria. "Even if behind closed doors they might engage on other issues in a more pragmatic manner, the public posture is going to be one of emphasizing how they disagree about [Syria]". He also announced that Russian Federation will ask the United Nations to investigate the chemical attack that took place in the Idlib province of Syria.

"We have information that a similar provocation is being prepared ... in other parts of Syria including in the southern Damascus suburbs where they are planning to again plant some substance and accuse the Syrian authorities of using (chemical weapons)".

Iran has provided crucial military and economic assistance to Assad throughout Syria's six-year civil war.

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, who is hosting the meeting, said Europe's broad support for the USA military strikes had contributed to a "renewed harmony" between the United States and its partners ahead of the first meeting of G-7 foreign ministers since Donald Trump took office in January.

The senior official said the US has no proof of Russian involvement in the actual chemical attack in northern Syria. It said the outcome of the discussions is important not only for the U.S.

While visiting Italy, the top diplomat indicated that Russian Federation could either side with the USA and other western nations or side with other Syrian backers such as Iran and the militant Hezbollah political party.

US officials previously have said Russians routinely work with Syrians at the Shayrat air base where the attack is supposed to have originated.

But Washington has sent mixed signals about whether it shares its allies' determination that Assad must be removed from power.

Tillerson spoke after a meeting of the "likeminded" countries was hastily arranged on the sidelines of the summit of the Group of Seven industrialized economies in Italy.

The allegation of Russian foreknowledge is grave, even by the standards of the now dismal U.S.

The countries will reportedly demand that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson clearly set out Washington's policy regarding Syria.

"I strongly disagree with those who say Assad's [chemical weapons] attack on Idlib [Province] proves that the 2013 [chemical weapons] deal struck by Russian Federation & the U.S. was worthless", he wrote.

Another U.S. official cautioned that no final American determination has been made that Russian Federation knew ahead of time that chemical weapons would be used.

The Trump administration has not said what other concessions Tillerson may seek during his trip, but the visit should provide some indication of the scope of the US approach in Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he has "intelligence" that the United States was planning false-flag attacks in Syria to frame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime of using chemical weapons. Instead, the U.S.is hoping to use the visit - the first by a Trump Cabinet official to Russia - to convey expectations to Moscow and allow Russians time to respond. "But the question of how that ends and the transition itself could be very important in our view to the durability, the stability inside of a unified Syria".

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