The Latest: Putin Wants UN Investigation Of Syria Attack

(AP) — The Latest on U.S. meetings with world leaders on the recent chemical weapons attack in Syria (all times local):

8:50 a.m.

President Vladimir Putin says Russia will appeal to the United Nations to investigate last week’s chemical attack in Syria.

Moscow has dismissed suggestions that the Syrian government that it backs could be behind the attack in Idlib province.

Putin told reporters on Tuesday that Russia would appeal to a U.N. agency in the Hague, urging it to hold an official probe.

Putin also said Russia has received intelligence about planned “provocations” using chemical weapons that would put the blame on the Syrian government.

Russia has defended Bashar Assad’s government which has been accused of launching a chemical weapons attack on the Idlib province.

Putin meets U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later Tuesday.

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7 a.m.

Russia’s foreign ministry says it hopes for “productive talks” with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as Tillerson heads to Moscow in his first visit to Russia as the top U.S. diplomat.

The ministry said in a three-page statement issued ahead of Tillerson’s arrival later on Tuesday that the outcome of the talks is important not only for the Russia-U.S. ties but “for the overall atmosphere on the world stage.”

Tillerson is traveling to Russia several days after a chemical attack in Syria and a U.S. air strike on a Syrian government base that Moscow on Tuesday dismissed as “an act of aggression.” Moscow is a staunch ally of President Bashar Assad whom the United States blamed for the chemical attack.

Tillerson said Tuesday that Russia must choose between aligning itself with the U.S. or with Assad and Iran.

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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sits at the table during a meeting of foreign ministers of the G7. Photo: Riccardo Dalle Luche/ANSA via AP

6:30 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Russia must choose between aligning itself with the U.S. and likeminded countries or embracing Syrian President Bashar Assad, Iran and the militant group Hezbollah.

Tillerson says it’s unclear whether Russia failed to take seriously its obligations in Syria or has been incompetent. But he says that distinction “doesn’t much matter to the dead.”

He says of the recent chemical attack: “We cannot let this happen again.”

Tillerson says the U.S. sees no future role for Assad in Syria, but he says the U.S. isn’t pre-supposing how Assad’s departure will occur.

Tillerson is traveling Tuesday to Moscow. He says Russia can play a role in Syria’s future but that aligning with Assad won’t serve Russia’s long-term interests.

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