Ha­ley ma­rooned on call of new Rus­sian sanc­tions

The Australian - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON: The White House scram­bled yes­ter­day to walk back UN am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley’s an­nounce­ment that new eco­nomic sanc­tions against Rus­sia are im­mi­nent, but stressed the penal­ties were still be­ing con­sid­ered.

Mrs Ha­ley cre­ated a firestorm on Mon­day when she said the new sanc­tions would be im­posed by the Trea­sury Depart­ment yes­ter­day, when, in fact, no such an­nounce­ment was planned, ac­cord­ing to two of­fi­cials fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.

In a state­ment, White House press sec­re­tary Sarah San­ders tried to clar­ify the sit­u­a­tion, but her ex­pla­na­tion cre­ated more con­fu­sion and led to sug­ges­tions that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had per­son­ally in­ter­vened to halt the sanc­tions from tak­ing ef­fect yes­ter­day.

“We are con­sid­er­ing ad­di­tional sanc­tions on Rus­sia and a de­ci­sion will be made in the near fu­ture,” Ms San­ders said.

The two of­fi­cials said Ms Ha­ley had mis­spo­ken when she said on CBS’s Face the Na­tion that Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin would an­nounce the sanc­tions yes­ter­day “if he hasn’t al­ready”,

Ms Ha­ley said the sanc­tions would tar­get those who are en­abling Syr­ian leader Bashar As­sad’s regime to con­tinue us­ing chem­i­cal weapons.

The two of­fi­cials said the ad­min­is­tra­tion had no plans to an­nounce Syria-re­lated sanc­tions on Rus­sia this week, al­though they noted that two en­ti­ties were hit with such penal­ties last month in a largely over­looked por­tion of a sanc­tions pack­age that dealt mainly with Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and hack­ing.

Af­ter Ms Ha­ley’s com­ments, some in the ad­min­is­tra­tion sug­gested the sanc­tions now be­ing con­sid­ered could be rolled out yes­ter­day. But oth­ers said it would be wiser and more ef­fec­tive to wait for a pe­riod longer than three days af­ter the US, Bri­tish and French in­fu­ri­ated Rus­sia with their mis­sile strikes on Syria on Satur­day.

The of­fi­cials could not say when the new sanc­tions would be an­nounced.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump con­tin­ued to hail the mis­sile at­tack as per­fectly car­ried out. On Satur­day US, French and Bri­tish war­planes and ships launched 105 mis­siles nearly un­op­posed by Syr­ian air de­fences. While he de­clared suc­cess, the Pen­tagon said the pum­melling of three chem­i­cal-re­lated fa­cil­i­ties left enough oth­ers in­tact to en­able As­sad to again use banned weapons against civil­ians.

AP

Nikki Ha­ley lis­tens to her Syr­ian coun­ter­part

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