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Massinissa Benlakehal

G7 hopes to restore Russia relations while backing Trump

Date of publication: 12 April, 2017

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Foreign ministers of the G7 praise the US missile strike against President Assad, and urge Russia to work to promote 'real and genuine' political process in Syria.
Russia has the potential to help resolve the conflict in Syria and restore a stable and unified country, all while defeating the Islamic State group, western leaders have said - as long as Moscow is prepared to use its influence.

"We urge Russia to work to promote a real and genuine political process in Syria, in accordance with the Geneva communiqué and UN Security Council Resolution 2254, and to use its influence with the regime to bring the conflict to an end," reads the G7 foreign ministers' joint communiqué, a copy of which has been obtained by The New Arab.

Foreign ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the high Representative of the European Union, called for the enforcement of a "real ceasefire" and improved humanitarian access. They also said the Kremlin should "engage seriously in the UN-led political process".

It is understood that Boris Johnson, Britain's foreign secretary, had attempted to get his counterparts to agree to "punitive sanctions" against Russia, following last week's chemical attack on a rebel-held area.

Johnson's bid was blocked by the diplomats meeting in Lucca, a city steeped in history in Italy's Tuscany province, though they agreed President Bashar al-Assad could not have a role in the governance of a post-war Syria.

Video: What did Trump's missile strike actually hit?

"At the moment there is no consensus on new sanctions as an effective instrument," Italian foreign minister Angelino Alfano told reporters at the close of the meeting.

The 30-page communique instead reads:

"If Russia is prepared to use its influence, then we are prepared to work with it in resolving the conflict in Syria, pursuing a political settlement and ultimately contributing to the costs of stabilisation and reconstruction."

It is not clear how much each member nation of the G7 would be willing to contribute to fund the rebuilding of Syria.

The assembled diplomats called for an investigation into last week's chemical attacks to be conducted by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

"We call upon the Syrian Arab Republic and all parties in Syria to cooperate fully with the OPCW, to allow a prompt conclusion of its investigation on this heinous incident," reads the communiqué.

"We call on Russia and Iran, who have a responsibility, as allies of the Syrian regime, to use their influence to ensure Syria's compliance with all of its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention."

The foreign ministers also praised the cruise missile strike against a Syrian airbase ordered by President Donald Trump, despite reports that Assad's air force was able to use the targeted facility to launch fresh airstrikes against rebel-held areas just one day later. 

"The subsequent US military action against Shayrat Airfield was a carefully calibrated, limited in scope response to this war crime and was directed against Syrian military targets directly connected to the 4th April chemical weapons attack, in order to prevent and deter the proliferation and use of deadly chemical weapons in Syria."

Follow Massinissa Benlakehal on Twitter: @mbenlakehal

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