Travel Pool report 8 (cabinet secretaries)

From: "Bierman, Noah"
Date: April 7, 2017 at 4:40:52 PM EDT
Subject: Travel Pool report 8 (cabinet secretaries)

Pool was briefed for 23 minutes by three cabinet secretaries on China meetings and Syria strikes in the grand ballroom of Mar-a-Lago. Transcript to come from White House. It was also piped into briefing room. Here are some highlights.

Secretary Mnuchin said added sanctions against Syria are forthcoming but gave no further details.

Secretary Ross said there was a 100-day action plan on trade with China, which he characterized as speedy, with “way-stations of accomplishment” along the way.

Tillerson said of the talks in general that “both the atmosphere and the chemistry between the two leaders was positive. The chemistry between the two really set the tone” for staff level meetings.

“The two leaders had positive productive meetings.”

There were no specific deliverables from the talks. But both sides saw a positive framework and new relationships. President Trump accepted an invite to China for 2017. No dates yet.

Secretary Tillerson said there was a commitment to a denuclearized Korean peninsula and agreed to increase cooperation. There was no kind of “package arrangement” on the topic but President Xi shared the US view that this has reached a very serious stage.

The US also raised the importance of human rights, but it was more embedded into other discussions than an issue unto itself. The environment was not discussed.

On Syria, Tillerson said future actions would be guided by their response to the strike. He conceded that the runway was still in use but said that was not a specific target because of its structure. He said the strikes were successful and that they took out 20 Percent of the 7th wing of the Syrian air force.

Tillerson said “I don’t have any information that it would be appropriate to share with you at this point” on the question of Russia’s possible role in Syrian gas attack.

Tillerson said Trump told Xi personally about the air strikes toward the end of the dinner, about 8:40 p.m. The president told him how many missiles launched and the rationale behind the strike. Tillerson said he heard that Xi understood that such a response was necessary when people were killing children. But he said that official response had also come through public statements from the Chinese.

Special thanks to Louise Radnofsky for help on this and other reports today.

Best,

Noah Bierman

Los Angeles Times

Washington Bureau

xxx-xxx-xxxx

@noahbierman

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