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Syria Says Warnings On Chemical Weapons 'Western Conspiracy'

  • RFE/RL

A senior Syrian official says Western reports that the Syrian government may be preparing to use chemical weapons against rebels are a "conspiracy" to justify a foreign military intervention.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mokdad spoke in an interview with Lebanese television.

Syria has never confirmed it has chemical weapons.

But officials have repeatedly said they would never use such weapons -- even if they had them -- against their own people.

The United States and European powers in recent days have said that the government may be preparing its chemical weapons stockpiles for use against rebels fighting to end President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

The U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, said on December 6 that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, in any way, would cross "an American red line" and that of the broader international community.

Clinton, Lavrov, Brahimi Hold Talks

Meanwhile in related news, on December 6, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi for about 40 minutes on the sidelines of a human rights conference in Ireland to discuss Syria's 21-month civil war.

Clinton told reporters in Dublin after the talks, "We have been trying hard to work with Russia to try to stop the bloodshed in Syria and start a political transition for a post-Assad Syrian future."

Brahimi said no decisions had been made at the meeting but the negotiating sides had agreed on the importance of working together in order to resolve the crisis.

Earlier on December 6, Clinton and Lavrov met separately for about 25 minutes.

With reporting by AP, ITAR-TASS, and AFP