AAA  Apr. 11, 2017 9:26 AM ET
The Latest: Putin says chemical weapons claims 'like Iraq'
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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella in Moscowís Kremlin, Russia, Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Sergio Mattarella is in Russia on an official visit. (Sergei Chirikov/ Pool photo via AP)
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(AP) — The Latest on U.S. meetings with world leaders on the recent chemical weapons attack in Syria (all times local):

9:25 a.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has compared recent accusations of a chemical attack levelled at the Syrian government how the United States justified its intervention in Iraq in 2003.

"It reminds me of the events in 2003 when U.S. envoys to the Security Council were demonstrating what they said were chemical weapons found in Iraq," Putin told reporters on Tuesday. "We have seen it all already."

Claims that the regime in Iraq in 2003 had weapons of mass destruction were never proven.

Putin also said some Western countries have publicly supported last week's U.S. airstrikes on Syria because they are eager to improve ties with President Donald Trump.

Western countries have blamed Syria for the attack that killed some 80 people, but the Syrian government and its Russian allies deny involvement.

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9:10 a.m.

Russia's General Staff says the Syrian government is willing to let international experts to examine its military base for signs of chemical weapons.

The United States on Friday carry out an airstrike on the Shayrat air base which is believed to have been used for last week's chemical weapons attack in the Idlib province.

Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy of the Russian General Staff said in televised remarks on Tuesday that the Syrian government is ready to let international experts to examine the base and that Russia will provide security for them.

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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.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is to meet U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday.

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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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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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The entry timed 8:50 a.m. has been corrected to say that Tillerson is meeting Lavrov on Wednesday, not Putin.

Associated Press
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