Ahead of G-7, Japan, US reaffirm commitment to stop spread of chemical weapons

| Updated: Apr 11, 2017 02:02 IST

Rome [Italy] April 10 (ANI): Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have reaffirmed that they will work together to stop the spread of chemical weapons. The two leaders held talks today on the sidelines of a meeting of the Group of 7 Foreign Ministerts in Lucca, Italy. Both leaders also discussed the situation in Syria and North Korea's nuclear and missile development. Their talks came days after the American military carried out missile strikes on a Syrian air force base in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack by government forces. Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations are meeting in Italy to treat the chemical attack in Syria and the U.S. military response with some urgency, and at the same put pressure Russia to end its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and push for peace. Last week's nerve gas attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, which killed more than 80 people, stirred President Donald Trump to strike for the first time on Assad's forces. U.S. warships fired 59 cruise missiles at the Syrian air base from which the U.S. believes the attack was launched. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the meeting in the Tuscan walled city of Lucca is being attended by the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Britain, Japan, Canada, the U.S. and current G-7 president Italy. Tillerson has already held bilateral talks with each of his G-7 counterparts. Britain is keen for the ministers' meeting to produce a tough statement and perhaps a threat of new sanctions if Moscow does not end its military support for Assad. Officials are hoping the moment of unity can be leveraged to bring a new diplomatic push to end the six-year-old civil war in Syria. The G-7 meeting comes as the United States is sending a Navy carrier strike group toward the Korean Peninsula to provide a physical presence following North Korea's persistent ballistic missile tests. Russia plans to put forward a proposal on Monday for an independent and impartial investigation of the attack, a spokesman for German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said. Secretary Tillerson is due to travel to Russia after the G-7 gathering, and his British counterpart Boris Johnson has said the former will deliver a "clear and coordinated message to the Russians." Washington has sent mixed signals about whether it shares the determination of allies including Britain that Assad must be removed from power. (ANI with inputs)
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