Russia ‘regrets’ US decision to postpone Syria talks

US had postponed summit due to ‘ongoing consultations’ on alleged poison gas attack

A member of the “Free Men of Syria” (Ahrar Suriya) brigade, operating under the Free Syrian Army,  makes improvised weapons  at a workshop near Aleppo. Photograph: Muzaffar Salman/Reuters

A member of the “Free Men of Syria” (Ahrar Suriya) brigade, operating under the Free Syrian Army, makes improvised weapons at a workshop near Aleppo. Photograph: Muzaffar Salman/Reuters

Tue, Aug 27, 2013, 07:25

Russia said this morning it regretted a decision by Washington to postpone talks on an international peace conference for Syria, underlining growing diplomatic tensions over the civil war.

The US State Department said yesterday it had postponed the meeting between senior diplomats, scheduled for tomorrow in The Hague, because of “ongoing consultations” over an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.

“It is regrettable that our partners decided to postpone the Russia-US meeting on calling an international conference on Syria,” deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov, who would have taken part in the talks, said on Twitter.

“Working out the political parameters for a resolution in Syria would be exceptionally useful now, when the threat of [military] force hangs over this country.”

The US has served Syrian President Bashar al-Assad notice that it believes he was responsible for chemical weapons being used against civilians last week.

Russia, Assad’s key ally and arms supplier, says rebel forces may have been behind the attack and has urged Washington not to use military force against Dr Assad.

The US and Russia, which has protected Dr Assad at the UN Security Council, agreed in May to try to arrange an international conference on ending the conflict in Syria, but the chances of it happening are fading.

A senior State Department official said the United States would work with Russia to reschedule tomorrow’s planned meeting and that the alleged chemical weapons attack demonstrated the need for a “comprehensive and durable political solution”.

Reuters