Trump reassures Theresa May of US support over Russia ultimatum
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Donald Trump has moved to reassure British prime minister Theresa May of America’s support over her ultimatum to Russia over the Salisbury chemical attack. AFP/MANDEL NGAN

Despite initial confusion between the responses of the White House and the State Department which contributed to the departure of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, Donald Trump has moved to reassure British prime minister Theresa May of America’s support over her ultimatum to Russia over the Salisbury chemical attack.

The president spoke with Mrs May on Tuesday and they discussed the investigation into the nerve agent attack which has left former double agent Sergei Skripol and his daughter fighting for their lives in a British hospital.

Prime minister May has demanded a response from the Russian government by midnight GMT on Tuesday night to the accusation that only the government of Vladimir Putin could have launched the attack as the chemical weapon believed to have been used in it, Novichok, is only produced in that country.

Mr Trump said “the United States stands in solidarity with its closest ally and is ready to provide any assistance the United Kingdom requests for its investigation.” He agreed “that the [Russian government] must provide unambiguous answers regarding how this chemical weapon, developed in Russia, came to be used in the United Kingdom.”

The pair also agreed on the need for there to be consequences for those who use such “heinous weapons in flagrant violation of international norms.”

On Monday night, after Mrs May had told the House of Commons that Russia was the prime suspect in the poisoning, the president had expressed his support for Britain through his spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders but failed to mention the allegations against Russia.

Within hours, then secretary of state Tillerson released a statement endorsing Mrs May’s pointing the finger at Russia in strong terms – a move which appears to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back in ending his tricky relationship with Mr Trump.



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