Amb. Nikki Haley: We don't see peace in Syria with Assad

Amb. Nikki Haley: We don't see peace in Syria with Assad

Do we have evidence that they were involved in the chemical attack? "I feel that was accomplished", she said. "Or do they want it to be a relationship in which we can find areas of cooperation that are in mutual interests?"

"And this is something to let Russian Federation know, 'You know what?"

"We will continue to talk with them about how this undermines any hope of improving relations, not just with the United States, but it's - it's pretty evident that they are taking similar tactics into electoral processes throughout Europe and so they're really undermining any hope for improved relations with many European countries as well", he said.

Trump ordered the air strike in response to a chemical weapons attack the Syrian government carried out against a Syrian village, killing more than 80 civilians.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took a more nuanced view, asserting that Assad had undermined his legitimacy as a leader but declaring that defeating Islamic State remains the top USA goal in Syria. Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon on Sunday claimed that Russian Federation was responsible for "every civilian death" in the Syrian chemical weapons attack, because it was the Syrian government's "principal backer".

But for Russian Federation or any other nation, McMaster said, supporting Syria's regime isn't in its best interest, and Russian Federation ultimately decides the kind of relationship it wants with the United States.

"There is not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime", Haley said.

"We don't see a peaceful Syria with Assad in there", she said. Tillerson expressed hope in the possibility of "constructive talks" with Russian Federation about that process.

Tillerson said the Trump administration was not seeking to topple Assad through violent regime change because it could backfire.

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British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, in Tuscany for the annual summit, warned the USA could launch further airstrikes on Syria following its bombing of the Shayrat airfield near the city of Homs on Friday. Tillerson has slammed Moscow for either failing or neglecting to enforce that agreement. Tillerson said he would bring up the issue when he meets with his Russian counterpart this week for what is sure to be a less-than-comfortable sit-down.

The challenges have multiplied in recent days.

Not so fast. Speaking to ABC's This Week, Tillerson emphasized there was "no change" in the USA military stance toward Syria. Ultimately, their comments raised as many questions as they answered, reinforcing the emerging reality that the Trump administration's approach to foreign affairs is heavily ad hoc and beholden to the president's unpredictable whims.

Haley, who, like Tillerson, is new to diplomacy, has also apparently concluded that a hard line toward Russian Federation is the safest course.

As The Washington Post noted Sunday, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley appeared on CNN Saturday to say that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad needs to be removed from power.

"First and foremost, we must defeat ISIS", Tillerson said on CBS' "Face the Nation," using an acronym for Islamic State.

"Once the ISIS threat has been reduced or eliminated, I think we can turn our attention directly to stabilizing the situation in Syria", he said, using an acronym for the jihadist group.

"What Ambassador Haley pointed out is it's very hard to understand how a political solution could result from the continuation of the Assad regime", McMaster said. "It puts the people who say "hold on" in a position of failing to see the crisis but also of being responsible for the crisis". "Why are we supporting this murderous regime that is committing mass murder of its own population and using the most heinous weapons available?'"

And in its wake, even the Trump administration seems to still be making sense of what it means for US policy in the Middle East going forward.

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