Russian lawmaker rips U.S. counterparts' decision not to meet on Syria

Sept. 6, 2013 at 1:34 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- A Russian parliamentary leader lamented a decision by U.S. congressional leaders not to meet with Russian lawmakers to discuss the crisis in Syria.

The speaker of Russia's State Duma said Friday plans were canceled to send a delegation to Washington to try to convince their U.S. counterparts that U.S. military intervention in Syria would be unwarranted and counterproductive, CBS News reported.

"The unwillingness to listen to arguments on an inter-parliamentary level shows that our American partners understand the entire weakness of their position," Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said.

On Tuesday, Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of Russia's upper house, sent a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, urging that the lawmakers meet to discuss resolving the Syria situation without the use of force. President Obama wants congressional authorization for a limited military strike in response to evidence that President Bashar Assad's forces launched a chemical attack Aug. 21 in Damascus suburbs.

RIA Novosti reported that Russia strengthened its naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea, bracing for a possible evacuation of Russian nationals from Syria.

Russia has a military facility on Syria's west coast and has been enhancing its naval presence in the region -- as has the United States -- in recent weeks.

CBS News said a U.S. submarine and five missile destroyers, all armed with cruise missiles, were expected to take up positions in the eastern Mediterranean.

Russia is a staunch ally of Assad's regime, and has warned against taking unilateral military action, calling for a response from the U.N. Security Council. Russia has used its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council to block punitive actions against the Assad regime so far.

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