WASHINGTON, September 5 (RIA Novosti) – A top US lawmaker has declined a Russian request for a meeting between US and Russian lawmakers to discuss how to address the burgeoning crisis in Syria, a spokesman said Thursday.
But a Russian embassy spokesman said plans for a visit next week by a delegation of members of both chambers of the Russian parliament and efforts to organize meetings of some kind were still on track despite the rejection.
Responding to emailed questions, a spokesman for John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives, said Boehner “did decline” the proposal, transmitted by the Russian embassy, for US lawmakers to meet with their Russian counterparts to discuss Syria.
The spokesman, Brendan Buck, did not respond to questions about why Boehner rejected the proposal, which was described earlier this week by the US news agency Associated Press as a possible “publicity stunt” given Moscow’s opposition to US military intervention in Syria which Boehner supports.
A similar proposal was also reportedly sent to Harry Reid, leader of the majority in the Senate. Reid’s office did not immediately respond to questions on whether he would take up the proposal.
Maxim Abramov, a spokesman for the Russian embassy, said however that planning was continuing for a Russian legislative delegation to come to Washington.
“We are working on some meetings, but I can’t tell you now when they will be or who will be the members of the delegation. We are still working on that,” Abramov said.
He declined to comment on Boehner’s refusal to meet with Russian lawmakers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday expressed his support for the plan, calling it “timely and correct.”
Putin’s comments came two days after US President Barack Obama said he would seek approval from Congress to launch a military strike on Syria in response to the apparent use of chemical weapons there last month in an attack Washington says was committed by Syrian government forces.