WASHINGTON, Nov 9 (KUNA) -- Britain's Foreign Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday urged the United State to "keep the pressure on Russia" over its involvement in Syria and Ukraine ahead of possible US-Russia talks.
Johnson, on an unexpected visit to Washington this week, praised Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's efforts in drawing Russia for talks on the Middle East and specifically Syria, where the US and Russian forces agreed to a 'deconfliction' zone in the south of the country, in an interview with Fox and Friends. He pushed for more pressure on the Russians to make a deal on Syria.
Johnson's visiting Washington while President Donald Trump and Tillerson are in Asia. Trump was expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam on Thursday to discuss North Korea, but Tillerson told the press there was no conclusion on whether the two leaders would meet.
"We want the Russians to make political progress towards a deal in Syria that will allow the Syrian people, not just those in the country but the 12 million Syrians kicked out, to have a vote.
"When that vote happens I have no doubt that you'll see a move away from the Assad regime," said Johnson.
Speaking on the proposed Trump-Putin talks, he added "I'm more in favor of context, if the meeting is going to go ahead that would be a great thing but don't reward Russia too early. Keep the pressure on Russia."
He added pressure should be put on Moscow over the annexation of the Crimea four years ago, which drew international condemnation, and its role in the ongoing conflict in the eastern Ukraine.
"We cannot give up on what they did in Crimea. We have to stick up for our principles. We have to keep the pressure on Russia for that. At the same time, we have to work towards solution in Ukraine and in the war that's going on in the Donbass region that is being fomented by Vladamir Putin."
Johnson on Wednesday met with senior Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Bob Corker and House Speaker Paul Ryan to discuss Britain's concerns over the Iran nuclear deal and curbing regional destabilization. He also met with House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy about confronting North Korea, as well as trade talks between the US and UK as the country leaves the European Union. (end)