MOSCOW (AP) — Russian and Syrian foreign ministers on Monday strongly pushed for the return of United Nations inspectors to Syria to continue their probe into the use of chemical weapons and again warned Washington against launching an attack.
The statement comes as President Barack Obama, who blames President Bashar Assad for killing hundreds of his own people in a chemical attack last month, is pressing for a limited strike against the Syrian government. It has denied launching the attack, insisting along with its ally Russia that the attack was launched by the rebels to drag the U.S. into war.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after Monday's talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem that U.N. chemical weapons experts should complete their probe and present their findings to the U.N. Security Council.
"We have agreed to push for the soonest return of inspectors," Lavrov said.
Al-Moallem said his government was ready to host the U.N. team, and insisted that Syria is ready to use all channels to convince the Americans that it wasn't behind the attack.
He added that Syria was ready for "full cooperation with Russia to remove any pretext for aggression."
Neither minister, however, offered any evidence to back their claim of rebel involvement in the chemical attack.
Lavrov said that Russia will continue to promote a peaceful settlement and may try to convene a gathering of all Syrian opposition figures to join in negotiations. He added that a U.S. attack on Syria would deal a fatal blow to peace efforts.
Lavrov wouldn't say how Russia could respond to a possible U.S. attack on Syria, saying that "we wouldn't like to proceed from a negative scenario and would primarily take efforts to prevent a military intervention."
President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would keep providing assistance to Syria in case of U.S. attack, but he and other Russian officials have made clear that Russia has no intention to engage in hostilities.
Lavrov also denied allegations that Russia may have sponsored a deal between the U.S. and Syria during the Group of 20 summit in St.Petersburg last week, where Putin discussed the Syrian crisis with Obama.
"There won't be and there can't be any deal behind the back of the Syrian people," Lavrov said.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Norfolk Police are investigating the cause of death for male found unconscious on the beach.
The art of making jewelry is helping some Norfolk students learn independence and job skills.
The suicide of a 16-year-old Gloucester girl has led a community to speak up about bullying.
A Virginia Beach woman is behind bars accused of trying to poison her children and kill herself. Only 10 On Your Side talked to Lorita Aiken's mother about the charges against her.
Camden County Sheriff Tony Perry said that during the last two weeks, incidents of breaking and entering and home or vehicle larceny have increased in two areas of the county.
A Facebook post helped Elizabeth City Police identify and locate the suspect of a hit-and-run incident involving a 3-year-old this week.
As Newport News Fire Chief Scott Liebold plans to retire at the end of this month, the city is looking for his replacement -- and they want your help.