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Russia’s top diplomat slams attempts to obstruct Syria’s chemical incident probe

April 26, 2017, 14:57 UTC+3

Russia’s top diplomat drew attention to the fact that the West is reluctant to share facts on the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria with Russia "on secrecy grounds"

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© Alexander Shcherbak/TAS

MOSCOW, April 26. /TASS/. Assertions by opponents to a probe into the chemical incident in Syria’s Khan Sheikhoun, claiming that experts can’t be sent there, are false, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following talks with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir on Wednesday.

"Another aspect that relates to the assertions by opponents to an impartial investigation who claim that a group of experts can’t be sent to the area of the chemical substance use for allegedly security reasons and that this is allegedly based on the estimates of the relevant UN department," the Russian foreign minister said.

"We have not been too lazy to check these assertions and they have proved to be false. The relevant UN department outlined the position to us, which means that no obstacles exist for organizing trips of inspectors both to the area of the use of the chemical substance in Khan Sheikhoun and to the relevant aerodrome from which aircraft with chemical munitions allegedly took off," the Russian foreign minister said.

Russia’s top diplomat drew attention to the fact that the West is reluctant to share factual information on the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria with Russia "on secrecy grounds."

"We have been told confidentially that our American counterparts have irrefutable data, just about the list of those Syrian officials and the military who made the decision on using chemical weapons and all other facts concerning the April 4 incident," Lavrov said. "Naturally, they cannot share this data with us 'on secrecy grounds."

"However, we cannot act in accordance with the principle Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character defined in the following way: 'Trust me!' We opt for the principle outlined by (US President) Ronald Reagan which says, 'Trust, but verify."

"Official representatives of London and Paris argue that there is no need to do anything or make any decisions, because it turned out that the samples had been collected at the site of the incident, these samples are being analyzed, and the results will be presented soon," the minister said. "A question arises: if the UK and France know about this, why are other members of the international community unaware of that?"

"We asked more than once, both in public and during private contacts, who collected these samples, when and in what area, how these samples were delivered to the relevant laboratory to rule out the possibility of manipulating them, what laboratory is meant, whether it has been certified by the OPCW and many other details," Lavrov went on to say. "We addressed them to the head of the OPCW Technical Secretariat but have received no answer yet. Nor have we received any answers from the British and French representatives who asserted that everything is all right, and there is no need for us to worry about anything."

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