British Foreign Secy cancels Russia trip post U.S. talks

| Updated: Apr 09, 2017 00:13 IST

London [UK], Apr. 8 (ANI): British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has cancelled his trip to Moscow following U.S. missile strikes in Syria, which Moscow has denounced. The visit has been scrapped after strategic talks between London and Washington, about how the West should approach Russia in the wake of the military action, reports the Independent. The trip planned by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will still go ahead later in the week, with Johnson leading efforts to bring together a coalition against Russian action in Syria and the regime of Bashar Assad. Johnson discussed the move with his US counterpart last night after the US launched 59 tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat airbase in Syria, following intelligence that deadly chemical weapons attacks on civilians originated there. Johnson said in a statement, "Developments in Syria have changed the situation fundamentally. My priority is now to continue contact with the US and others in the run up to the G7 meeting on 10 and 11 April, to build coordinated international support for a ceasefire on the ground and an intensified political process. I will be working to arrange for other like-minded partners to meet and explore next steps soon too. "I discussed these plans in detail with Secretary Tillerson. He will visit Moscow as planned and, following the G7 meeting, will be able to deliver that clear and coordinated message to the Russians," he added. He also deplored Russia's continued defence of the Bashar al-Assad regime even after the chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. "We call on Russia to do everything possible to bring about a political settlement in Syria and work with the rest of the international community to ensure that the shocking events of the last week are never repeated," he said. Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the strike as "act of aggression" and said it violated international law. Russia earlier this week denied a chemical weapons attack took place in Syria saying the deaths in Khan Sheikhoun were caused by a Syrian regime airstrike on a rebel-controlled chemical weapons factory on the ground. According to the Independent, London and Washington agreed that while Mr Tillerson would head into meetings with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Johnson will drum up support among G7 nations to address Russia's actions in Syria ahead of Tuesday's meeting of the group. He will push for counterparts to adopt goals, including a transition away from Assad in Syria, Russia demilitarisation in the country and plans to rebuild infrastructure alongside any peace deal. (ANI)

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