It would appear, based on constructs from alternate governmental releases, that thankfully the prior AP report is not a surprise to Secretary Rex Tillerson. A readout from a call between British Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump provides additional context to absorb the larger, and overarching, ally objectives.
As such it appears the international effort is focused on holding Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible for the actions of Syria’s Bashir Assad. Toward that objective the international leadership is putting an absolute ton of responsibility on U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to be the tip of the spear.
To say all eyes are on T-Rex today would be the understatement of the year. And ahead of his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Vladimir Putin is attempting to avoid the snare by refusing to grant T-Rex an audience. Apparently, based on the action of Putin, Secretary T-Rex is considered a more formidable adversary than former Secretary of State John Kerry.
(Via Reuters) The Kremlin said on Monday that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will not meet President Vladimir Putin when he visits Moscow on Wednesday, a move that could point to tensions over a U.S. missile attack on a Syrian air base last week.
John Kerry, Tillerson’s predecessor, often met Putin as well as the Russian foreign minister when he visited Moscow, and Putin granted several audiences to the Texan when he ran oil major Exxon Mobil before taking his current job.
Putin even personally awarded Tillerson a top Russian state award — the Order of Friendship — in 2013, and it was widely expected that the former oilman would meet Putin on what is his first trip to Russia as secretary of state.
But Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Monday that no such meeting was planned, suggesting Tillerson will follow strict diplomatic protocol and only meet his direct counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
[…] Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said on Monday that the U.S. strikes had shown Washington’s total unwillingness to cooperate on Syria.
Reacting to media reports that Tillerson would use his visit to press Moscow to back away from supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s biggest Middle East ally, Peskov signaled that was a non-starter.
“Returning to pseudo-attempts to resolve the crisis by repeating mantras that Assad must step down cannot help sort things out.” (link)
This is how the UK officials are presenting the communication: – “Prime Minister Theresa May and President Trump spoke today about the situation in Syria. A Downing Street spokesperson said:”
♦ The President thanked the Prime Minister for her support in the wake of last week’s U.S. military action against the Assad regime.
♦ The Prime Minister and the President agreed that a window of opportunity now exists in which to persuade Russia that its alliance with Assad is no longer in its strategic interest.
♦ They agreed that U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson’s visit to Moscow this week provides an opportunity to make progress towards a solution which will deliver a lasting political settlement.
♦ They also discussed the broader Middle East, including the threat posed by Iran throughout the region.
The Prime Minister and President also stressed the importance of the international community including China putting pressure on North Korea to constrain the threat it poses. (readout link)
Here’s the way the White House is framing the same contact: