U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the United States will hold responsible anyone who commits crimes against humanity. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The United States will hold responsible anyone who commits crimes against humanity, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday, days after the U.S. military unexpectedly attacked Syria. Tillerson is in Italy for a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) major industrialized nations, with his counterparts from Europe and Japan eager for clarity from Washington on numerous diplomatic issues, especially Syria. Before the April 7 missile strikes on a Syrian airbase, U.S. President Donald Trump had indicated he would be less interventionist than his predecessors and willing to overlook human rights abuses if it was in U.S. interests. But Tillerson said the United States would not let such crimes go unchallenged. "We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world," he told reporters while commemorating a 1944 German Nazi massacre in Sant'Anna di Stazzema. Trump ordered his military to strike Syria in retaliation for what the United States said was a chemical weapons attack by President Bashar al-Assad's forces which killed scores of civilians, including many children. European ministers are eager to hear whether Washington is now committed to overthrowing Assad, who is backed by Russia. They also want the United States to put pressure on Moscow to distance itself from Assad. Tillerson, who travels to Russia after the two-day G7 gathering, said at the weekend that the defeat of Islamic State remained the U.S. priority, while the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that "regime change" in Syria was also a priority for Trump. The mixed messages have confused and frustrated European allies, who are eager for full U.S. support for a political solution based on a transfer of power in Damascus. "The Americans say they agree, but there's nothing to show for it behind (the scenes). They are absent from this and are navigating aimlessly in the dark," said a senior European diplomat, who declined to be named. Italy, Germany, France and Britain have invited foreign ministers from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar to sit down with the G7 group on Tuesday morning to discuss Syria. All oppose Assad's rule.