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Trump Backs UK Over Ex-Russian-Spy Poisoning

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U.S. President Donald Trump(Xinhua/Ting Shen/IANS)

The deadline set by the UK government for Moscow to explain how a Russian-made nerve agent was used to poison a former double agent has passed. President Trump said the US was with the UK all the way, agreeing that the Russian government must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used….reports Asian Lite News

U.S. President Donald Trump(Xinhua/Ting Shen/IANS)

US President Donald Trump has told British Prime Minister Theresa May that his administration backs Britain “all the way” over the ex-Russian-spy poisoning case, a Downing Street spokesperson has said.

May had concluded that it was “highly likely” Russia was to blame for the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.

The spokesperson said in a statement May spoke to Trump on Tuesday afternoon to update him on the investigation into the Salisbury incident and set out the conclusion reached by the British government that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack.

“President Trump said the US was with the UK all the way, agreeing that the Russian government must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used,” the spokesperson said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May (File Photo: IANS)

The White House also released a statement earlier on Tuesday, saying that Trump stated the United States stands in solidarity with “its closest ally” and is ready to provide any assistance the United Kingdom requests for its investigation.

“President Trump agreed with Prime Minister May that the Government of the Russian Federation must provide unambiguous answers regarding how this chemical weapon, developed in Russia, came to be used in the United Kingdom.

“The two leaders agreed on the need for consequences for those who use these heinous weapons in flagrant violation of international norms,” said the White House statement.

A Downing Street spokesman said May has also called French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier to update them of the investigation, both Macron and Merkel have condemned the attack and offered their solidarity with Britain.

Former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia, a Russian citizen, were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping center in the district of Salisbury, England, on March 5. They remain in critical condition in hospital, according to British media reports.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (Xinhua/Wu Zhuang) (zcc)

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia, while denying any involvement in the poisoning case, was ready to cooperate with Britain in the investigation of the incident in accordance with international law.

“Russia is innocent and Russia is ready to cooperate in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention if the United Kingdom condescends to honoring its international legal obligations related to the mentioned document,” Lavrov told a press conference in Moscow.

Meanwhile, the deadline set by the UK government for Moscow to explain how a Russian-made nerve agent was used to poison a former double agent has passed.

Focus now shifts to what steps Theresa May will take against Russia following the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, the media reported on Tuesday.

The UK government has not publicly disclosed the measures it is considering against Moscow.

But ahead of the expiry of the deadline, Russia’s UK embassy posted a series of tweets saying it would not issue a response without being given access to samples of the nerve agent.

It also contended international obligations required a joint investigation take place into the incident.

Another tweet said it had sought an “explanation” from the Foreign Office, amid speculation the UK could mount a cyber-attack, as it “takes a serious view on cyber security breaches”.

Moscow has already threatened to expel British media outlets from Russia if the Kremlin-funded TV channel RT is stripped of its licence to broadcast in the UK.

Britain could expel Russian diplomats, as it did after the poisoning of former Russian Federal Security Service operative Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 with radioactive polonium.