‘Let U.N. inspectors who are on the ground in Syria conclude their investigations’

China and Russia have again called for negotiations to resolve the Syrian crisis by convening an international conference in Geneva, amid calls for an independent and objective investigation into the allegations about the use of chemical weapons in the outskirts of Damascus.

On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the “current situation once again shows the importance and urgency of advancing a political solution for the Syrian issue”.

Mr. Hong stressed that all relevant parties should commence “joint efforts to start the Geneva 2 conference on the Syria issue as soon as possible and launch an inclusive political transitional process”.

He warned that neither side should prejudge the outcome until the U.N. inspectors who are on the ground in Syria conclude their investigations. Mr. Hong urged the visiting delegation to fully consult with Damascus while pursuing its probe.

The Chinese demand for substantiation before conclusions can be contrasted with the statement by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who has already pronounced the government of President Bashar Al Assad guilty of Wednesday’s attack. “We do believe this is a chemical attack by the Assad regime on a large scale, but we would like the United Nations to be able to assess that,” said Mr. Hague.

France, whose hostility to the Assad government is well-known, went a step further when its Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius advocated “reactions of force” from the international community if the allegations are established.

Russia, which has worked in coordination with China in blocking all anti-Assad resolutions in the U.N. Security Council, has slammed calls “heard from some EU capitals” for the use of force against Syria as “unacceptable”.

Earlier, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a U.N. investigation into the incident “without delay”. He also demanded that his inspection team in Syria be granted permission and access to swiftly investigate the incident which occurred on the morning of August 21, 2013. The United States has so far maintained that it is unable to draw a conclusive inference that chemical weapons had been used.

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