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Legal Matters

Russian FM Presses Tillerson Over Syria Probe

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed "regret" in a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on April 21 at the United States' opposition to a Moscow-backed plan to investigate an alleged chemical attack in Syria.

In the call with Tillerson which "took place at U.S. initiative," Lavrov raised the probe proposal made by Russia and Iran at the global chemical arms watchdog the OPCW, said a Russian Foreign Ministry statement.

Western nations have accused the Syrian regime of carrying out the suspected April 4 air strike, but Moscow and Tehran, allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have sought to clear Damascus of blame.

During the call Lavrov notably "expressed regrets about the opposition of the United States at the [OPCW] to an initiative...to send inspectors to Syria to verify reports of the use of sarin gas in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun" which left 87 dead, including many children.

Lavrov and Tillerson "agreed to examine again a possibility of opening an objective probe into this incident under the auspices of the OPCW," the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said in the statement.

The OPCW on April 20 "overwhelmingly" rejected the Russian-Iranian move to launch a new investigation into the suspected chemical attack in Syria, delegates said, backing a probe that is already under way.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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