Tillerson faces tough talks in Moscow amid increasing tensions


WASHINGTON U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s revisit to Moscow this week will be an early exam of possibly a Trump administration can use any movement generated by a barb dispute on a Syrian atmosphere bottom to qualification and govern a plan to finish a Syrian war.

Even before Trump systematic final week’s strike in plea for a haughtiness gas attack, Tillerson’s revisit was certain to be dominated by troublesome issues, including Russian division in a 2016 U.S. election, an apparent defilement of an critical arms control treaty, and saying what cooperation, if any, is probable in a quarrel opposite Islamic State.

Now, Tillerson, a former oil executive with no tactful experience, is charged with avoiding a vital U.S. fight with Russia while harsh some concessions from Moscow. Those embody stealing absolved of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s remaining chemical weapons and dire Assad to negotiate Syria’s future.

The Kremlin pronounced on Monday Tillerson was not scheduled to accommodate with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit, a pierce that could indicate to tensions.

It might also advise that Tillerson will instead follow despotic tactful custom and usually accommodate his approach counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The State Department pronounced final week a assembly had not been reliable with Putin, who met with Tillerson when a Texan headed Exxon Mobil.

Russia, along with Iran, is Assad’s primary backer, and a involvement in Syria’s quarrel has been essential to ensuring his reason on power, nonetheless no longer over a whole country.

Tillerson pronounced he had not seen tough justification that Russia knew forward of time about a chemical weapons attack, that killed during slightest 70 people, though he designed to titillate Moscow to rethink a support for Assad in a Apr 12 talks.

“I’m carefree that we can have constructive talks with a Russian government, with Foreign Minister Lavrov and have Russia be understanding of a routine that will lead to a fast Syria,” Tillerson told ABC’s “The Week” on Sunday.

The U.S. journey barb strike on Thursday, meant to inhibit Assad from regulating chemical weapons again, gives Tillerson some-more credit with Russian officials and will boost his efforts, observers and former officials said. Tillerson is due to accommodate with Russian officials on Wednesday, and is approaching to accommodate with Putin and Lavrov.

“The proof of a administration’s eagerness to use force has a intensity to supplement some precedence to a diplomacy,” pronounced Antony Blinken, a emissary to former Secretary of State John Kerry.

The U.S. strike – systematic reduction than 3 days after a gas dispute – could make it transparent to Russia that a United States will reason Moscow accountable for Assad, Blinken said.

Tillerson ought to be “very matter of fact” in his meetings, Blinken said, promulgation Russia a summary that: “If we don’t rein him in, we will take serve action.”

Tillerson pronounced on Thursday that Russia had “failed in a responsibility” to mislay Syria’s chemical weapons underneath a 2013 agreement, that he argued showed Russia was possibly complicit with a gas attacks or “simply incompetent.” Securing a Russian joining on expelling Assad’s chemical weapons is expected to be initial on his agenda, pronounced Evelyn Farkas, a former emissary partner secretary of invulnerability in a Obama administration.


The talks will be a vital exam of Tillerson’s tactful skills. As a former arch executive during Exxon Mobil, he has knowledge doing business in Russia, though no credentials in a mostly open negotiations that general tact requires.

It also is misleading if Trump, who has voiced doubt about multilateral institutions such as a European Union and United Nations, will have calm for a long negotiations that a extensive understanding on Syria would require.

Russia cursed a barb strike as bootleg and Putin pronounced it would mistreat U.S.-Russia ties. Moscow also pronounced it would keep troops channels of communication open with Washington, though would not sell any information by them.

It was an variable spin of events for Trump, who praised Putin regularly during final year’s choosing debate and pronounced he would like to work some-more closely with Russia to better Islamic State. Just over a week ago, tip administration officials were signaling that stealing Assad is no longer a U.S. priority.

But one comparison central pronounced it was poignant that Russia suspended, and did not cancel, team-work with a United States after a atmosphere strike. Nor did Lavrov cancel Tillerson’s revisit to Moscow, suggesting Russia might be peaceful to endure a singular strike. As of this weekend, a talks were still on.

“They’re going to try to pull a line around this incident,” pronounced Alexander Vershbow, a former U.S. envoy to Russia during a George W. Bush administration. “They are still not giving adult on operative with a Trump administration.”

The Trump administration also wants to keep a concentration in Syria on defeating Islamic State rather than opening a dispute with Russia or Syria’s government.

Another U.S. central pronounced one wish is that Moscow will see Tillerson’s revisit and a contention about how to concur to stop Assad’s use of criminialized weapons as a taciturn confirmation of Russia’s good energy status, one of Putin’s categorical ambitions.

“The strikes aren’t indispensably a bad thing for Russia,” pronounced Andrew Tabler, a associate with a Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Russia’s had a really tough time stealing President Assad to come to a negotiating list in any kind of suggestive way.”

Now, Tabler said, a Russians can indicate to some-more U.S. strikes as a cost of serve intransigence by Assad.

(Editing by John Walcott, Bill Trott and James Dalgleish)


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