Hypocrisy Knows No
U.S. to Hold Accountable Those Who Commit Crimes
By Crispian Balmer and Steve Scherer
April 10, 2017 "Information
- LUCCA, Italy - The United States will
hold responsible anyone who commits crimes
against humanity, Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson said on Monday, days after the U.S.
military unexpectedly attacked Syria.
is in Italy for a meeting of foreign ministers
from the Group of Seven (G7) major
industrialised nations, with his counterparts
from Europe and Japan eager for clarity from
Washington on numerous diplomatic issues,
the April 7 missile strikes on a Syrian airbase,
U.S. President Donald Trump had indicated he
would be less interventionist than his
predecessors and willing to overlook human
rights abuses if it was in U.S. interests.
Tillerson said the United States would not let
such crimes go unchallenged. "We rededicate
ourselves to holding to account any and all who
commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in
the world," he told reporters while
commemorating a 1944 German Nazi massacre in
Sant'Anna di Stazzema.
ordered his military to strike Syria in
retaliation for what the United States said was
a chemical weapons attack by President Bashar
al-Assad's forces which killed scores of
civilians, including many children.
European ministers are eager to hear whether
Washington is now committed to overthrowing
Assad, who is backed by Russia. They also want
the United States to put pressure on Moscow to
distance itself from Assad.
Tillerson, who travels to Russia after the
two-day G7 gathering, said at the weekend that
the defeat of Islamic State remained the U.S.
priority, while the U.S. Ambassador to the
United Nations Nikki Haley said that "regime
change" in Syria was also a priority for Trump.
mixed messages have confused and frustrated
European allies, who are eager for full U.S.
support for a political solution based on a
transfer of power in Damascus.
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 the
dark," said a senior European diplomat, who
declined to be named.
Germany, France and Britain have invited foreign
ministers from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab
Emirates, Jordan and Qatar to sit down with the
G7 group on Tuesday morning to discuss Syria.
All oppose Assad's rule.
foreign ministers' discussions in Tuscany will
prepare the way for a leaders' summit in Sicily
at the end of May.
to reach an agreement on statements ahead of
time - a normal part of pre-meeting G7 diplomacy
- have moved very slowly, partly because of a
difficult transition at the U.S. state
department, where many key positions remain
issues, such as trade and climate change, are
likely to be ducked this week. "The more
complicated subjects will be left to the
leaders," said an Italian diplomat, who declined
to be named because he was not authorised to
speak to the press.
However, the foreign ministers will talk about
growing tensions with North Korea, as the United
States moves a navy strike group near the Korean
peninsula amid concerns over Pyongyang's nuclear
will also discuss Libya. Italy is hoping for
vocal support for a United Nations-backed
government in Tripoli which has struggled to
establish its authority even in the city, let
alone in the rest of the violence-plagued north
Trump administration has not yet defined a clear
policy and Rome fears Washington may fall into
step with Egypt and Russia, which support
general Khalifa Haftar, a powerful figure in
struggle against terrorism, relations with Iran
and instability in Ukraine will also come up for
discussion, with talks due to kick off at 4.30
p.m. (1430 GMT) on Monday.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer and Steve Scherer;
editing by Andrew Roche)