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Russia, U.K. trade barbs at OPCW meet

‘Proposal for joint probe is perverse’

Russia and Britain faced off on Wednesday, trading accusations at a tense meeting of the world’s chemical weapons watchdog, as Moscow accused British and U.S. secret services of being behind the poisoning of a Russian former double agent.

London slammed as “perverse” a Russian proposal for a joint probe into the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a nerve agent, dismissing it as a “diversionary tactic”. But Russian officials hit back that accusations of Moscow engineering the attack were a “grotesque provocation... crudely concocted by the British and American security services”.

‘Ready to cooperate’

At a closed-door meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, convened at the request of Moscow, Russia insisted it was ready to cooperate. “We consider this is necessary to ensure that this problem is solved within the (international) legal framework,” the Russian Embassy to the Netherlands said in a tweet.

It added that it had won backing from 14 other countries on the OPCW’s governing executive council and its statement was “supported by solid facts by experts in this field”.

But the British delegation to the OPCW said “Russia’s proposal for a joint, U.K./Russian investigation into the Salisbury incident is perverse. It is a diversionary tactic.”

The British defence laboratory analysing the nerve agent revealed on Tuesday that it could not say whether the substance came from Russia. Moscow hailed that as a vindication of its repeated denials of involvement.

Russia’s Ambassador to the Netherlands and Deputy Minister for Industry and Trade Georgy Kalamanov attended the OPCW meeting, along with British chemical weapons expert and acting permanent representative to OPCW John Foggo.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 12:01:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/russia-uk-trade-barbs-at-opcw-meet/article23436791.ece

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