MOSCOW, August 29 (RIA Novosti) – The leaders of Russia and Germany on Thursday talked by phone about the escalating situation in Syria and noted the importance of a chemical weapons report currently being prepared by United Nations investigators for review by the UN Security Council, the Kremlin said.
President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a “thorough exchange of opinions” on various aspects of the Syrian crisis, the Kremlin’s press service said in a statement.
Both Germany and Russia are regarding the Syrian conflict on the premise that proactive efforts toward the search for a “politico-diplomatic settlement” will continue at the UN and in other formats, the Kremlin said, adding that the telephone call had been initiated by the German side.
Western powers are considering armed intervention in the two-year civil war after hundreds of people were killed last week in the Syrian capital Damascus in an apparent nerve gas attack that the Syrian opposition claimed was carried out by government forces. The Syrian government quickly denied the allegations and said it had evidence of rebel groups using chemical weapons.
A UN team of chemical weapons investigators started working in Damascus last week. It is expected to visit three sites of alleged chemical weapons attacks, including the one last week in Ghouta, an eastern part of the city.
The UN Security Council has so far not authorized any military intervention in the Syrian crisis. Moscow, along with Beijing, previously vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions condemning Syrian President Bashar Assad's government. Russia has urged all parties in the conflict to use diplomatic means to resolve it.
US President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he had not yet decided what Washington’s response would be to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.
US intelligence officials were quoted by The Associated Press as saying questions remained about who actually controls chemical weapons stocks in Syria and there were doubts whether Assad ordered the last week’s purported gas attack.
A report by the United States’ Office of the Director for National Intelligence said Assad's forces were likely behind the alleged attack, but there were still gaps in the US intelligence picture, the AP said.
(Updates, adds background)