Russia Warns U.S. Over Syria, Criticizes Delay to Peace Talks

Russia criticized the U.S. decision to postpone a meeting aimed at preparing for a peace conference on Syria and warned against Western military intervention in the Middle Eastern country.

“We urge our American colleagues and all members of the international community to show common sense and strictly abide by international law,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said today in a statement on its website. “We are expecting the U.S. to fulfill its obligations regarding preparations for this conference.”

The meeting this week between U.S. and Russian diplomats aimed at reviving Syrian peace talks has been postponed as the U.S. and its allies weigh a response to claims that Syria’s government used chemical weapons against civilians, according to a State Department official.

Deputies to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were scheduled to meet in The Hague to discuss restarting stalled negotiations to end the two-year Syrian civil war. U.S. officials will work with their Russian counterparts to reschedule the meeting, said the State Department official, who asked not to be identified discussing the postponement.

The meeting would have been the first of American and Russian officials since reports emerged of an alleged chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb that Syrian opposition groups say killed at least 1,300 people. The U.S. and its allies are weighing whether to respond militarily against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime over the Aug. 21 attack, which Kerry today denounced as a “cowardly crime.”

The delay was a decision by the U.S., Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said today on his Twitter Inc. account, adding that the need for peace negotiations is more pressing than ever at a time of threatened Western intervention.

“We regret that our American partners decided to cancel the bilateral meeting,” Gatilov said. “Fixing the parameters of a political settlement in Syria would be extremely useful now when the threat of military action hangs over the country.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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