Mattis: No changes on Syria from Trump

Mattis: No changes on Syria from Trump
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Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisUS mulls sending warships through Taiwan Strait amid China tensions Overnight Defense: US, South Korea cancel another military exercise | Dozen sailors injured in chopper crash on aircraft carrier | Navy vet charged with sending toxic letters US, South Korea cancel another military exercise MORE on Tuesday said the U.S. military has not changed its stance on Russian forces in Syria since the Helsinki summit with President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“What we do with the Russian Federation, we deconflict our operations. We do not coordinate them, we deconflict them . . . to make certain along the deconfliction lines we are not creating hazardous conditions,” Mattis said at Stanford University's Hoover Institution in California, alongside Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSaudis say journalist killed in ‘fight’ at consulate; 18 detained Pompeo asks Mexico to help tackle migration ‘crisis’ Trump: 'FAKE NEWS' that Pompeo heard tape of Saudi journalist's death MORE and their Australian counterparts.


Mattis added that the Defense Department will not be doing anything different until Pompeo and Trump “have further figured out at what point we’re going to start working alongside our allies with Russia in the future.”

“That has not happened yet and it would be premature for me to go into any more detail at this point.”

The United States and Russia back opposing sides in Syria’s more-than-seven-year-long civil war, but last week in Helsinki Trump and Putin outlined broad plans for increased cooperation between their two countries on international security matters.

The Russian Defense Ministry later said that it’s ready to step up cooperation with the U.S. military in Syria.

Current U.S. law prohibits the Pentagon from coordinating with the Russian military. U.S. Central Command head Gen. Joseph Votel last week told reporters that Congress would have to make legislative changes before the U.S. military could fully work with Russian forces.

It's still unknown what verbal agreements were made between Trump and Putin, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who spoke alongside Mattis – said he has spoken with Trump about the meeting and “the president’s been clear about some of the things that were agreed to.”

“There were many things that came from what I view as an incredibly important meeting between President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE and President Putin,” said Pompeo, who on Wednesday will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Helsinki meeting, as well as the administration’s policies on North Korea and Iran.

“We’ll testify about a lot of things including the relationship between the United States and Russia.”