Theresa May speaks to Donald Trump to discuss Russia sanctions over Syria

Written by Josh May on 11 April 2017 in News

They said there was a “window of opportunity” to convince Moscow to abandon its support for the Assad regime after last week’s chemical weapons attack

​Azaz, Syria: Picture credit - Christiaan Triebert

Theresa May and Donald Trump spoke last night as part of the diplomatic push for a tougher international position against Syria and Russia. 

The Prime Minister and US president said there was a “window of opportunity” to convince Moscow to abandon its support for the Assad regime after last week’s chemical weapons attack.

The foreign ministers of the US and UK are at a G7 meeting in Italy, with sanctions against senior Russian figures under consideration.

Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, will then travel to the Russian capital to deliver the united message to the Kremlin.

Tensions have risen in recent days after the US launched airstrikes against a government airfield in response to the apparent gas attack, leading to Russia to warn of the threat of “real war”.

Trump thanked May for the UK’s support for the US military action during their phone call yesterday evening, No 10 said.

“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,” a spokesperson said. 

“They agreed that US 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.”

The two leaders also discussed “the threat posed by Iran” in the Middle East, as well as the situation in North Korea.

The US has moved warships into the vicinity of the Korean peninsula in response to Pyongyang’s escalation of missile tests.

The spokesperson added: “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.”

Trump also spoke to German chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday.

The UK gave its support to last week’s action but Downing Street yesterday refused to be drawn on whether or not it would back further military action if chemical weapons were used again.

Boris Johnson, who is representing Britain at the G7 summit, yesterday urged Russian premier Vladimir Putin to reconsider whether he wanted to be associated with the “toxic” regime of President Assad.

“Do they want to be eternally associated with the guy who gasses his own people, or do they want to work with the Americans and the rest of the G7 and indeed, like-minded countries, for a new future for Syria?” he said.

But The Times reports that Johnson’s plans for sanctions against Russia – which would be the first imposed for its support for Assad – are being opposed by Germany and Italy. 

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