Russian Federation vetoes United Nations draft resolution on Syria gas attack probe

Syrian presidency's press office shows Syrian President Bashar al Assad during an interview with AFP in the capital Damascus
Russian Federation vetoes United Nations draft resolution on Syria gas attack probe
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17 April, 2017

"I expressed the view that the current state of U.S. -Russia relations is at a low point", Tillerson said.

Russia's Safronkov called the USA strikes on a Syrian air base in retaliation for the Khan Sheikhoun a provocation, but Delattre said they were "a legitimate response to a mass crime which could not go unpunished". "But it doesn't have to be this way".

Russia's top foreign minister said Wednesday that his country will consider reopening a phone line with the United States used to avoid aircraft collisions over Syria only if the US agrees to stop attacking Syrian government targets.

Ahead of the vote, Russia's Deputy Representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov told the council that putting the draft resolution into a vote did not serve a useful goal.

And Assad said he could "only allow any investigation when it's impartial, when we make sure that unbiased countries will participate in this delegation in order to make sure that they won't use it for politicised purposes".

Russia's hopes for a thaw in Russia-US ties following Mr Trump's election have been shattered by the congressional investigation into alleged ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia.

The coalition said Thursday one its air strikes had accidentally killed 18 members of the Syrian alliance south of Tabqa, a strategically important town on the Euphrates River near Raqa.

In an exclusive interview with AFP in Damascus - his first since the alleged April 4 attack prompted a United States air strike on Syrian forces - Assad said his army had given up all its chemical weapons and that Syrian military power was not affected by the USA strike.

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"Unfortunately, we've got some differences with regards to a majority of those issues", Lavrov lamented. "I think it's probably unlikely", he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Putin might agree to resume an information-sharing "deconfliction" network with the United States on the countries' warplane flights in Syria.

But Assad said evidence came only from "a branch of al Qaeda", referring to a former extremist affiliate that is among the groups that control Idlib province, where Khan Sheikhun is located.

"One could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved but has rather deteriorated", Putin said in an interview broadcast on Russian television. The Russians held to a tentative schedule that was worked out in advance, US officials said.

"We saw a veto from Russian Federation today because the reality is, there's absolutely no question that Bashar al-Assad and his regime were responsible for the strikes". "We know the ending of it way too well".

This policy didn't last long: "The Trump administration on Wednesday will lift the hiring freeze that it had imposed on the federal work force, even as it directs agencies to submit plans for personnel cuts and other restructuring moves to fit the budget blueprint released by President Trump last month". But Mr Tillerson repeated the administration's new belief that "the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end".

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the veto "puts Russian Federation on the wrong side of the argument", while French President Francois Hollande warned Russian Federation it "bears a heavy responsibility" for continuing to protect Assad.


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