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Moscow and Washington still remain divided over Syria, diplomat says

April 24, 2017, 12:41 UTC+3
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MOSCOW, April 24. /TASS/. US officials’ reluctance to take part in a meeting with Russian and UN representatives in Geneva on Syria may be due to discrepancies in approaches made by Moscow and Washington, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told the media on Monday.

"From the very outset they did not confirm they would be prepared for such a trilateral meeting," he said. "The reason must be deeper than different schedules. Apparently Moscow and Washington have different approaches to the matters that should be discussed there."

The OPCW mechanism 

Russia is not in favor of replacing the existing mechanism of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) but wants it to function properly,Ryabkov said: 

"Our opponents claim that we are undermining the trust in the OPCW," he said. "We do not want to eliminate anything. We are not in favor of replacing the existing mechanism with something new. We just want the existing mechanism to work properly. We would like the fact-finding trip to take place as soon as possible. We want to make sure that this group does not include people who lack credibility, considering their previous activities. We would like them to work with experts from other countries."

"By and large, the issue of experts’ trip to [Syria’s] Shayrat and [the city of] Khan Shaykhun only boils down to the need to be at the scene rather than collecting the alleged evidence [of chemical weapons use - TASS] remotely," Ryabkov emphasized.

"Secondly, it is the issue of the correct, balanced from a geographical point of view representation of experts from various countries in the mission," he added.

The OPCW Executive Council earlier did not support the proposal on investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria’s Khan Shaykhun (Idlib province) on April 4 put forward by Russia and Iran. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson agreed during a telephone conversation on April 21 to once again explore the organization’s capability to conduct an impartial probe into the incident.

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