US postpones meeting with Russia on Syria

The US has postponed a meeting with Russia this week aimed at finding a resolution to the Syrian crisis.

Updated: Aug 27, 2013, 10:20 AM IST

Washington: The US has postponed a meeting with Russia this week aimed at finding a resolution to the Syrian crisis, as it is weighing a military strike against the Arab country in the wake of alleged use of chemical weapons.

"Given our ongoing consultations about the appropriate response to the chemical weapons attack in Syria on August 21, we have decided to postpone Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and the US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford`s meeting with a Russian delegation that was scheduled for this week in the Hague," a senior State Department official said on Monday.

On condition of anonymity, the official said that the US will work with its Russian counterparts to reschedule the meeting aimed at discussing plans for an international peace conference to end the civil war in the Arab country.

"As we`ve long made clear, and as the events of August 21 reinforce, it is imperative that we reach a comprehensive and durable political solution to the crisis in Syria. The US remains fully invested in that process," the official said.

"We will continue working with Russia and other international partners to move towards a transition based on the framework laid out in the Geneva Communiqué," the State Department official said.

Such a decision by the Obama Administration was taken hours after Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against its own people, a charge denied by Damascus.

Meanwhile, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said the mandate of the UN investigation team was not to determine culpability into who would have used chemical weapons. "It is to determine whether they were used, which the whole entire world now agrees has happened," she said.

"We don`t at this point have confidence that the UN can conduct a credible inquiry into what happened, and we are concerned that the Syrian regime will use this as a delay tactic to continue shelling and destroying evidence in the area," Harf said.

"And quite frankly we don`t want the Syrian regime to be able to use it as a delaying tactic. As we saw this morning, it`s not even entirely safe for them to be there operating on the ground. So we believe that it is too late for a credible investigation at this point," she said.

President Barack Obama, she said, has a range of options that he`s currently looking at with his security team.

"Clearly, some of those, include military contingencies. But he`s looking at a range of options and has not yet made a decision on how to respond," she said.