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Lavrov and Tillerson Talk by Phone on Syria, Russia-U.S. Relations

April 22, 2017 (EIRNS)—Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had a telephone conversation yesterday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

"During the discussion of international problems Lavrov expressed regret over the U.S. opposition to Russia’s initiative in the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] to dispatch inspectors to Syria for verifying the reports on the use of sarin nerve gas in the town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 and the presence of poison chemicals on the Shairat airbase,"

the ministry said.

"Lavrov and Tillerson agreed to issue instructions for pondering a possibility to organize an independent investigation of the incident under the aegis of the OPCW."

They also discussed bilateral relations, with Lavrov bringing up Russia’s demand "to return the Russian diplomatic properties in the U.S., which the Obama Administration confiscated unlawfully."

"Lavrov and Tillerson also agreed on kick-starting the work of a joint expert group at the level of deputy foreign ministers to tap the ways of eliminating the irritants from bilateral relations,"

the report said.

Acting State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement said tjat the telephone discussion was a "follow-up on bilateral issues discussed during [Secretary Tillerson’s] April 11-12 visit to Moscow."

"The Secretary and Foreign Minister discussed a range of other topics, including the OPCW investigation into Syria’s use of chemical weapons on April 4. The Secretary reiterated his support for the OPCW’s existing investigative mechanism,"

the statement said—i.e., no need to send anyone to the scene, just accept the word of the Brits.