U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the United States will not agree to cooperate with Russia’s military in Syria until Moscow recognizes that not all Syrian opposition groups are terrorists, European allies say.
During a meeting with his counterparts from France, Germany, Turkey, and other countries on the sidelines of a Group of 20 meeting in Bonn on February 17, Tillerson said the Trump administration supported UN efforts to forge peace in Syria through negotiations that are set to resume in Geneva on February 23.
Diplomats at the meeting said Tillerson stressed that Moscow’s alignment with the Syrian government, which labels all Syrian rebel groups as “terrorists,” would make military cooperation between Washington and Moscow difficult.
“He made it clear that there would not be military cooperation until the Russians accepted that not all the opposition are terrorists,” one diplomat told Reuters.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the exchange with Tillerson was useful.
“We ask the Russian backer of the regime to put pressure on it so it stops considering that all the opposition are terrorists,” Ayrault said. “Otherwise, there will be no discussion in Geneva.”
Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters
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