The Latest: Russia ambassador rejects chemical-weapons blame
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and chemical weapons in Syria (all times local):
Russia’s U.N. ambassador says U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is hastily accusing the Syrian government of using chemical weapons this week without any investigation and is “attempting to drag Russia into this as well.”
Vassily Nebenzia called it “a strange coincidence” that the allegations of chemical weapons in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta were made on the eve of Tuesday’s Paris meeting. That’s where the U.S. and 23 other countries launched a new organization aimed at identifying and punishing anyone who uses chemical weapons.
Tillerson said Russia is ultimately to blame for any use of chemical weapons in Syria and must stop vetoing U.N. Security Council resolutions on holding offenders accountable.
Nebenzia says he is circulating a resolution proposing the establishment of a new international investigative body to identify those responsible for chemical attacks.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that Russia is ultimately to blame for any use of chemical weapons in Syria.
He said Tuesday that Russia is in violation of a 2013 agreement it made with the U.S. on the removal of chemical weapons from Syria and is helping the Syrian government to breach the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans their use.
Tillerson told the inaugural meeting of a new organization aimed at ending impunity for the use of chemical weapons that Russia must stop vetoing U.N. Security Council resolutions on holding those who use such weapons accountable. If it cannot support a future Security Council resolution to that end, it should abstain, Tillerson said.
The United States and 28 other countries are launching a new plan to better identify and punish anyone who uses chemical weapons, amid new reports of a suspected chemical attack in Syria.
The initiative was announced Tuesday in Paris, where U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and diplomats from the other signatory countries.
The group plans to publish information about chemical attacks to name and shame perpetrators and eventually sanction them. U.N. efforts to punish perpetrators in Syria have failed, repeatedly blocked by Syrian ally Russia.
Activists and rescue teams said the Syrian government launched an attack Monday with suspected poisonous gas that affected nearly 20 civilians in a rebel-held suburb near Damascus. The Syrian government denies using chemical weapons.