Russia rejects claims regime was behind chemical attack, warns against military solution in Syria
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gives a press-conference on the situation in Syria in Moscow on August 26, 2013. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEVRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry that Moscow rejects Washington's claim the Syrian regime was behind a chemical weapons attack outside Damascus, the foreign ministry said.
In a phone call Tuesday, Lavrov also told Kerry of Moscow's alarm the situation was undermining diplomatic efforts to end the crisis, as expectations grow of Western military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
"John Kerry put forward judgements which he said were based on information from reliable sources and according to which the Syrian government is to blame for the incidents with the probable use of chemical weapons," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
"This argument was rejected by Sergei Lavrov, who put forward the corresponding position of the Russian side." Lavrov said Moscow wanted an objective and substantive exchange of information on the evidence of chemical attacks in Syria.
"Moscow is, as before, particularly worried about the dangerous and already clear line towards a conscious undermining by a number of countries of the conditions for a political-diplomatic solution to the conflict," the statement added.
Russia has repeatedly expressed doubt over the Syrian government's involvement in the chemical weapons attacks and argued that it appears to have been carried out by rebels with the aim of discrediting the regime.
Lavrov warns Brahimi
Lavrov also warned against a military solution to the Syria conflict, saying it would destabilize the country and the Middle East region, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.
In a telephone conversation with UN-Arab League Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Lavrov "emphasized the lack of alternative to a diplomatic solution and that attempts for a military solution will lead only to a further destabilization of the situation in the country and the region," the ministry said.