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Fallout From US Missile Attack in Syria Casts Shadow on Tillerson's Moscow Trip

© REUTERS / Joe SkipperU.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson makes a statement about the visit of China's President Xi Jinping and about the situation in Syria, at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson makes a statement about the visit of China's President Xi Jinping and about the situation in Syria, at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017 - Sputnik International
Washington is doing its best to try to strip Russia of its "Syrian trump card" ahead of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Moscow, which kicks off on Tuesday, Russian political analyst Pavel Svyatenkov told Sputnik.

Vladimir Putin and Rex Tillerson - Sputnik International
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In an interview with Sputnik, Russian political analyst Pavel Svyatenkov said that last week's US missile attack on Syria indicates that the White House is doing its utmost to damage Russia's negotiating position in the run-up to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Moscow.

Tillerson is due to arrive in Moscow later on Tuesday, in what will be followed by talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov scheduled for April 12.

A week ago, Moscow and Washington announced an agenda, which includes discussions on the Syrian conflict, the settlement in Ukraine, the situation on the Korean Peninsula, Afghanistan, non-proliferation-related issues, the fight against terrorism and US-Russian relations.

Earlier, Tillerson expressed hope that his negotiations with Lavrov would be held in a constructive atmosphere. At the same time, he stressed that during his visit to Moscow he intends to raise the issue of Russia's fulfillment of its obligations under the agreements on the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria.

Tillerson's visit comes almost a week after at least five people were killed and seven others injured after the United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha'irat, located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the city of Homs.

US President Donald Trump said the attack was a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria's Idlib province on Tuesday, which Washington blames on the Syrian government.

The US attack in Syria has nothing to do with attempts to uncover the truth about the use of chemical weapons in Idlib province, according to Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks on issues related to visas and travel after US President Donald Trump signed a new travel ban order in Washington, US on March 6, 2017. - Sputnik International
Tillerson to Try to Get Russia on 'Same Page' as US on Syria During Moscow Visit
She also pointed out that Russia had a number of questions for the United States regarding its strikes on the Syrian airfield, adding that these would be addressed to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Speaking to Sputnik, Pavel Svyatenkov described the US missile attack on Syria as another attempt to worsen the negotiating positions of Moscow ahead of Tillerson's talks with Lavrov.

"Given that the situation in Syria remains Russia's bargaining chip in its talks with the United States, the Trump administration is apparently trying to deprive Russia of it," Svyatrenkov said.

He also noted that the White House is currently under immense pressure not to even try to get US-Russian ties back on track.

"The Democrats, some Republicans and US allies in the EU are trying to force Trump not to improve relations with Russia," Svyatenkov said, referring to the cancellation of UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's visit to Russia.

"There are a number of powerful forces that are uninterested in the US changing its policy on Russia. And because of the fact that Trump and his team are criticized as if they are allegedly those connected with Russia, Trump needs to stick to a hardline approach," Svyatenkov concluded.

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a briefing on Monday that Tillerson will try during his visit to Moscow "to get the Russian government back on the same page" as the United States with respect to commitments in Syria.

He said that President Donald Trump and his team also want to find out what is Russia willing "to commit to in action" with respect to fighting the Daesh terrorist group.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - Sputnik International
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Earlier, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that President Trump is discussing with members of his administration the possibility of introducing sanctions against Russia and Iran for supporting the Syrian government.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow is not aware of any possible new US sanctions against Russia over Syria, as neither President Donald Trump or his administration have made any statements.

"Not knowing what is at issue, and we really do not know what is at issue, it is difficult to talk about any reaction," Peskov told reporters.

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