ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 12, 2011, before the Senate Finance Committee hearing looking into high gasoline prices and high profits. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Tillerson Makes Serious Comments Regarding Russia Before Meeting With Lavrov in Moscow

Today, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is meeting with his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Prior to this interaction, Tillerson made some serious comments regarding Russia with top diplomats at a G7 Summit right after the United States launched airstrikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Shayrat airbase last week.

According to FoxNews, Tillerson added, “we want to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people. Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role or Russia can either maintain its alliance with this group, which we believe is not going to serve its interests long term.”

Tillerson has previously called Russia lack of ability to enforce Syria’s 2013 agreement to give up its chemical weapon program, “simply incompetent.”

As we move forward, it will be interesting to see how Tillerson and President Donald Trump handle Putin and Assad’s alliance.

On one side, you have Russian military deployed to the Dumayr Airbase in an area close to the northeastern part of Damascus. This area is vital to both American and Russian interest in the on-going fight against ISIS. On the other side, Putin and Russia did nothing to stop Assad from murdering his own people.

With no diplomatic experience prior to taking office, this is a big moment for Secretary Tillerson and President Trump. Can the U.S. get like-minded countries in the G7 and others to help in Syria? These comments by Tillerson look to be going along with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley words on Wednesday, that “it is long past time for Russia to stop covering for Assad. It is long past time for Russia to push seriously for peace and not continue to be part of the problem.”

The President sent a clear message last week and it looks like Tillerson is doing the same diplomatically. I hope and pray this is the first positive step in a comprehensive strategy in Syria and the middle east. After eight years of a lack of action by the Obama Administration, it is refreshing that U.S. officials are at least projecting a sense of seriousness.

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Clayton Felts

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