Foreign ministers at the G7 summit failed to agree on whether fresh sanctions should be imposed on Syrian leader Bashar al Assad or his ally Russia, Italy's foreign minister Angelino Alfano said Tuesday.
"At the moment there is no consensus on new sanctions as an effective instrument," Alfano said at the close of a two-day meeting in Italy. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had said ahead of the G7 meeting that he wanted to discuss imposing fresh sanctions over last week's chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held area by Assad's air force.
The G7 ministers also agreed that there can be no peace solution for war-torn Syria with Assad in power, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters.
Cost of sanctions on Russia
Italian officials estimate that sanctions imposed on Russia after its 2014 annexation of Crimea cost Italy some four billion euros in lost business. Rome has pushed back on previous attempts to impose fresh penalties on Moscow.
Alfano said the G7 did not want to put Russia in a corner, but rather sought a constructive relationship with Moscow.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault suggested the question was given little attention by Johnson's counterparts from the United States, Germany, Canada, Italy, France and Japan. "The question wasn't mentioned by anyone, except Boris Johnson, but we didn't talk about it any further," Ayrault said.
However, speaking later to British television, Johnson said there had been an agreement on support for further sanctions if evidence can be gathered against those involved in last week's poison gas attack on a rebel Syrian town that killed 87 people.
Johnson said Britain and its European partners would await the outcome of an investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Pushing for peace
The summit comes as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson lands for crunch talks in Moscow.
Tillerson is expected to denounce Russian support for Syria and take up America's traditional role as leader of the West on behalf of Donald Trump's administration.
Pressure is building on Russian President Vladimir Putin to break ties with Assad, who is accused of launching a sarin gas attack on a town in Idlib, Syria last week.
Russia has rejected accusations that Assad used chemical arms against his own people and has said it will not cut its ties with the Syrian president.
TRT World's Sarah Morice has more details.