Syria says talks with UN chemical arms investigator were 'fruitful'

Syria says talks with UN chemical arms investigator were 'fruitful'

BEIRUT - Reuters
Syria said on July 27 it had held "fruitful" talks with a United Nations chemical arms investigator, but did not say if his team would be allowed to probe allegations that such weapons were used in its civil war.

Ake Sellstrom's full team has not been allowed into Syria due to diplomatic wrangling over access. His mission this week was to prepare the ground for an investigation.

Syrian state news agency SANA said Sellstrom had met with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem. It quoted a foreign ministry statement as saying the discussions were "comprehensive and fruitful and led to an agreement on the means of moving forward."

It did not say if the agreement included access for Sellstrom's team. Damascus has so far refused to let U.N. investigators go anywhere except Khan al-Assal in Aleppo province, where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and its Russian ally say rebels used chemical weapons in March.

The United States said last month it had proof that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against fighters trying to overthrow Assad. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has insisted that his team be permitted to visit at least one other location, the city of Homs, site of an alleged chemical attack by government forces in December 2012. 

Both sides deny using chemical weapons in a war which the U.N. says has killed 100,000 people.