Senior U.S. official: Russia knew in advance of Syrian chemical attack

In a gesture weighted with symbolism, Tillerson visited the site of a World War II-era Nazi massacre in central Italy on Monday.

"What we're trying to do is to give Rex Tillerson the clearest possible mandate from us as the West, the United Kingdom, all our allies here, to say to the Russians "this is your choice: stick with that guy, stick with that tyrant, or work with us to find a better solution", Johnson was quoted as saying.

In an unusual announcement for a foreign government, Johnson also said the USA could launch more cruise missiles into Syria like the ones President Donald Trump ordered last week in reaction to Assad's use of chemical weapons.

Leading members of the G7, meeting in Italy, will get their first chance to seek clarity from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on whether the US is now committed to deposing the regime of Syrian President President Bashar al-Assad.

He said the US launched cruise missile strikes last week against the Syrian base "in a response of a chemical attack".

ASIA Trump's deputy national security adviser, K.T. McFarland, is expected to step down and has been offered the position of US ambassador to Singapore, a USA official says.

The sides discussed the situation in Syria after the United States missile strike.

Though such comments hint at a more activist US foreign policy focused on preventing humanitarian atrocities, Trump has consistently suggested he prefers the opposite approach.

Successive attempts by top Trump administration officials to articulate a plan have only furthered the appearance of a policy still evolving, even after the USA broke with precedent last week by attacking Assad's forces.

Three times during Monday's White House briefing, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer mentioned barrel bombs as another reason for launching attacks on Assad.

Ahead of the full meeting, Tillerson held bilateral talks with G-7 counterparts including Britain's Johnson, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

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But there must now be a long-term solution to the civil war in which Assad must no longer be president, he added.

Syria has given a murky account of what happened, but denies deliberately carrying out a chemical attack and blames "terrorist groups" for the deaths.

He said the USA intends to return to full offensive air operations as soon as possible.

"Clearly, Assad is not that person", Haley said.

"But Assad's principal backer is Russian Federation".

But, she says it's not something the US should do alone, explaining, "I don't think it's something for the decide".

His comments came after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pulled out of a Moscow visit hours before he was due to fly.

Tillerson would "deliver that clear and coordinated message to the Russians", he said.

But there was no escaping the here and now, with last week's deadly chemical-weapons attack in Syria still fresh on everyone's mind, and nuclear-armed North Korea engaged in a new round of sabre-rattling.

Among European nations, there are also differences.

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