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No consensus at G-7 on new sanctions against Russia

Vladimir Putin
Maxim Shipenkov | Pool | Reuters
Vladimir Putin

G-7 foreign ministers failed to reach an agreement to impose new sanctions on Russia following an alleged chemical attack on Syrian soil.

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano told CNBC that there was "no consensus" among the seven biggest industrialized economies to impose punishments on Russia for supporting the regime of Bashar Assad, who is believed to have ordered a chemical attack.

"Our approach has been very clear. At the moment, there is no consensus for further sanctions as an instrument to obtain the goal that we are aiming for," Alfano told CNBC during a press conference.

U.K. Foreign Minister Boris Johnson raised the issue of new sanctions during the G-7 meeting in Lucca, Italy, but failed to gather support among his counterparts.

Johnson told reporters on Monday evening that Russia should pick a side. "The message we are sending to the Russians is very, very clear: Do they want to stick with a toxic regime, do they want to be eternally associated with a guy who gases his own people or do they want to work with the Americans and the rest of the G-7 and indeed many other countries for a new future for Syria."

Alfano, who hosted the meeting, said that, at least from an Italian point of view, imposing new sanctions would not solve the ongoing conflict.

"There are different sensitivities on Syria: Our colleague Boris Johnson, in fact, raised the issue. And I am saying this not to express what everyone in the group thinks, but rather the Italian approach, I want to be very clear about that. Sanctions are always an instrument, they are not an end themselves. From our point of view, sanctions are an instrument to reach a goal," he told CNBC.

"We must have a dialogue with Russia. We must not push Russia into a corner," the Italian minister said earlier in the press conference.

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