Putin not ‘war criminal’, Trump’s State Dept. pick says
Calling Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” for Russia’s actions in support of Syrian forces in Aleppo would be inaccurate, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be America’s next top diplomat said Wednesday, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.
“I would not use that term,” Rex Tillerson said on repeated questioning by high-ranking lawmaker Marco Rubio during his Senate confirmation hearing.
Moscow carried out a pounding aerial offensive to assist forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that left much of eastern Aleppo in ruins, and displaced or killed scores of civilians.
Assad’s victory there last month cemented his most prized gain in Syria’s six-year conflict, putting an end to a long-standing Syrian opposition bastion.
But critics have maintained that the campaign that secured his win is fraught with rights violations, including the deliberate targeting of residential areas, schools and hospitals.
"Those are very, very serious charges to make and I would want to have much more information before reaching a conclusion,” Tillerson responded when pressed on the allegations.
Tillerson urged the U.S. to re-engage with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"This is a long-standing NATO ally that in the absent of American leadership, he [Erdogan] got pretty nervous about his situation and he turned to who was next available," Tillerson said, pointing to Ankara's detente with Moscow.
"He turned to an ally in Russia that is not a sustainable ally. And it's making clear to him, that is not a sustainable alliance, your sustainable alliance is with the United States of America," he said.
Still, Tillerson urged the "recommit to the Syrian Kurds", referring to the YPG, which has formed the backbone of Washington's principal partner in Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Washington's reliance on the YPG has long irked Ankara, and been a major strain on relations between the NATO allies.
Turkey views the YPG as the Syrian-offshoot of the PKK, which the U.S. and Turkey designate as a terror group.
The U.S. has not labeled the YPG as such.
While urging a recalibration of U.S. Syria policy, the former ExxonMobil CEO who has had close business ties with Russia said Moscow is "a danger" to the U.S.
"But it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests," said Tillerson. "We need an open and frank dialog with Russia regarding its ambitions so we know how to chart our own course.
"A cooperation with Russia based on common interest is possible," he said pointing to potential joint counterterrorism efforts.
He acknowledged it is a "fair assumption" that Putin directly orchestrated a sweeping influence campaign aimed at undermining Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in favor of Trump.
And in a break with his potential boss, Tillerson voiced support for a nascent free trade deal with Asia, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump has long-lambasted.
Tillerson stepped down from this post at ExxonMobil at the end of 2016.
Related news releases
- 27.06.2017U.S. says it will work with travel industry to implement travel ban
- 27.06.2017Trump says Obama 'colluded' on Russia, without giving evidence
- 26.06.2017In victory for Trump, Supreme Court revives Trump travel ban
- 26.06.2017Supreme Court partially reinstates Donald Trump's travel ban
- 25.06.2017Donald Trump congratulates Muslims on Eid al-Fitr holiday marking end of Ramadan
- 25.06.2017Colombian police arrest 8 suspects in connection with Bogota shopping mall blast
- 25.06.2017One dead, one injured in California shooting
- 25.06.2017Clashes between rival criminal gangs in Mexico leaves seven people dead
- 25.06.2017US issues arrest warrants for five former VW Managers in Emissions fraud scandal
- 24.06.2017Plane crashes into empty Florida daycare building; 1 killed
- 24.06.20175.7-magnitude quake hits off Coracora, Peru
- 24.06.2017Four Venezuelan parliament workers hurt in Caracas clashes
- 23.06.2017Trump nominates Robert Wood Johnson as ambassador to UK
- 23.06.2017Canadian leader says Muslims must fight terrorism
- 22.06.2017Trump has no recordings of talks with FBI ex-director Comey
- 22.06.2017Trump says 'we have a great relationship with China' after critical tweet
- 21.06.2017US crude falls to lowest level in 10 months
- 21.06.2017US F-16 catches fire during takeoff in Texas
- 21.06.2017U.S. Attorney General Sessions hires private attorney
- 21.06.2017UN praises Turkey's hospitality towards refugees
- 21.06.2017Canada: Anti-terror law beefs up cyber threat powers
- 21.06.2017U.S. shoots down drone close to Iraqi-Syrian border
- 21.06.2017U.S. imposes new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine
- 21.06.2017New Mexico Lab Shutdown Endangers US Nuclear Arsenal
- 20.06.2017U.S. State Department 'mystified' by Gulf states on Qatar
- 20.06.2017Argentina police seize cache of hidden Nazi artifacts
- 20.06.2017Four Mexican federal police killed in ambush in Guerrero
- 20.06.2017Otto Warmbier, US student released from North Korea has died
- 19.06.2017Cuba calls Trump speech on island 'grotesque spectacle'
- 18.06.2017Several sailors' bodies found on stricken Navy destroyer
- 18.06.2017Explosion in Bogota shopping center kills at least three, wounds nine
- 18.06.2017U.S. welcomes Syria cease-fire, urges opposition to halt attacks
- 17.06.2017U.N. chief set to name new Libya envoy after rare contentious search
- 17.06.2017Seven U.S. soldiers wounded in insider attack at Afghan base
- 17.06.2017Trump commends Trudeau for boosting Canada’s military spending
- 16.06.2017Trump orders clampdown on Cuba travel and trade, curbing Obama detente
- 16.06.2017UN unable to confirm death of Daesh leader Baghdadi
- 16.06.2017US sending almost 4,000 extra forces to Afghanistan
- 16.06.2017U.S. Vice President hires counsel to deal with Russia probe inquiries
- 16.06.2017Senate passes new sanctions on Iran, Russia
- 12.01.2017Trump says won't divest from his business while president
- 12.01.2017Russia steps up military presence in Syria, despite Putin promise
- 12.01.2017U.S. sanctions Syrian officials for chemical weapons attacks
- 12.01.2017U.S. blacklists North Korean officials over rights abuses
- 12.01.2017Tillerson not aware of any US plans to change ‘one China’ policy
- 12.01.2017US adds 7 officials, 2 entities to North Korean sanctions list