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G7 foreign ministers to discuss Syria at meeting Tuesday

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano

World News

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven industrialised western countries (G7) meeting in Italy are to devote a special session to the Syrian conflict on Tuesday.

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano set a special session for 8 a.m. Tuesday (0600 GMT), Italian news agencies ANSA and ADNkronos reported.

The foreign ministers of Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar are also to take part.

Alfano coordinated the move with his German, French and British counterparts.

G7 foreign ministers are meeting in the Italian town of Lucca starting Monday.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will also attend.

North Korean sabre-rattling and Russia’s role in Syria will likely also dominate the agenda.

Tensions have spiked since last week’s US missile strike on a Syrian airbase.

Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has cried foul.

Meanwhile, North Korea pointed to the U.S. move as justification for its nuclear weapons programme.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country was suspended from the G8 after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014, slammed the U.S. strike as an “aggression against a sovereign country,” according to state media.

The war of words has not gone without response from the West.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson cancelled a planned trip to Moscow, while London said Russia was responsible “by proxy” for civilian deaths in an apparent chemical weapons attack in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, which prompted the US strike.

U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson, who is scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov after the G7 summit, said “it’s time for the Russians to think carefully about their continued support for the Assad regime,” a senior State Department official told reporters in a conference call.

Meanwhile, a U.S. Navy strike force is headed to the Korean Peninsula, after North Korea launched a ballistic missile just ahead of a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 4.

G7 summit host Italy cited North Korea’s “alarming expansion of its ballistic and nuclear system” as “worrisome.”

The G7 is made up of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States. Representatives from the EU will also attend.

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