Russia says US ignored appeals for Syria chemical arms proof

Russia on Monday accusedWashington of ignoring Moscow's appeals for proof of Syriangovernment involvement in chemical weapons attacks in Syriaduring the country's more than two-and-a-half-year-old civil war.

Moscow's allegations against Washington come as both saythey are encouraging peace talks that Western powers and GulfArab states hope will lead to the departure of Syrian PresidentBashar al-Assad and the formation of a transitional government.

"Our requests for additional information which could provethe Syrian government involvement in the use of chemical weaponswere ignored by Washington," Russian UN Ambassador VitalyChurkin told reporters after a closed-door meeting on chief UNchemical arms investigator Ake Sellstrom's finalreport.

Churkin said allegations about Syrian government involvementin chemical attacks, including an Aug. 21 sarin gas attack thatkilled hundreds of people, "were not persuasive." He said Moscowviewed the Aug. 21 incident as a provocation by the rebels.

The Russian ambassador referred to what he said wasinformation released by former US spy agency contractor EdwardSnowden. US relations with Russia have been strained in recentmonths over Moscow's decision to grant temporary asylum toSnowden, who leaked documents about widespread US surveillanceactivity.

"The lack of any proof (about Syrian government use ofchemical arms) was particularly strange because as the publiclearned from the media reports based on Edward Snowden'smaterials the United States had powerful intelligence assets inSyria," Churkin said.

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