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Tuesday 20 February 2018

Tillerson: US will hold to account 'any and all who commit crimes against innocents anywhere in the world'

Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson Newsdesk Newsdesk

The US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has said the US will hold to account those who commit crimes against innocents anywhere in the world.

Washington will hold to account "any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world" he said.

Mr Tillerson was speaking in Italy where he and other foreign ministers have travelled for a meeting of the G7 summit.

In the morning a special session is due to take place to discuss 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.

Italy is hoping for a final communique that will reinforce United Nations' efforts to end six years of conflict in Syria.

The meeting will give Italy, Germany, France, Britain, Canada and Japan their first chance to grill the new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on whether Washington is now committed to overthrowing Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

President Donald Trump had hinted he would be less interventionist than his predecessors and more willing to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses if it was in US interests.

Given this, the US attack on Syria last week in retaliation for what it said was a chemical weapons attack by Assad's forces on Syrian civilians confounded many diplomats.

The US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said at the weekend that regime change in Syria was a priority for Trump, while Tillerson said on Saturday the first priority was the defeat of Islamic State.

The mixed messages have confused and frustrated European allies, who are eager for full US support for a political solution based on a transfer of power in Damascus.

"The Americans say they agree, but there's nothing to show for it behind (the scenes). They are absent from this and are navigating aimlessly in in the dark," said a senior European diplomat, who declined to be named.


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