The United States and Russia held surprise talks on the crisis in Syria today, suggesting they may be looking to put acrimony aside amid allegations that President Bashar al-Assad could be preparing to use chemical weapons.
The Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, met her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, and the UN Syria envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, in Dublin, just a day after unconfirmed reports that the regime has loaded the nerve agent sarin into bombs.
The meeting between the US and Russia comes despite acrimony between the nations, which have criticised each others’ roles in the conflict. But both are concerned about the potential use of chemical agents. The US has warned that the use of such weapons by Mr Assad would be a “red line” that would lead to action. The latest flurry of condemnation followed US intelligence that the regime had moved chemical stockpiles. Syria accused the West of hyping fears that the regime would use the weapons as a “pretext for intervention”.
“Syria stresses again, for the tenth, the hundredth time, that if we had such weapons, they would not be used against its people,” the deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Maqdad said. “We would not commit suicide.” Damascus also sharply criticised the deployment of Patriot missiles along the Turkish border, describing it as “provocative”.