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U.S. Accuses Russia Of Holding UN 'Hostage'

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power accuses Russia of blocking all action against Syria at the Security Council.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power accuses Russia of blocking all action against Syria at the Security Council.
Tensions between the United States and Russia over Syria continue to rise.

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power on September 5 accused Russia of holding the Security Council "hostage" over the crisis in Syria and the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

"Even in the wake of the flagrant shattering of the international norm against chemical weapons use, Russia continues to hold the council hostage and shirk its international responsibilities, including as a party to the chemical weapons convention," Power told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

"What we have learned, what the Syrian people have learned, is that the Security Council the world needs to deal with this crisis is not the Security Council we have."

Power said Russia has consistently used its veto power to block Security Council action against Syria since the crisis there erupted more than two years ago.

Power expressed skepticism over recent remarks by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moscow "doesn't exclude" backing military action against Syria if it is proven that Assad's regime was behind an August 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus.

"There is nothing in the pattern of our interactions with our colleagues in the Security Council, with our Russian colleagues, that would give us any reason to be optimistic," Power said. "And indeed, we have seen nothing in President Putin's comments that suggest that there is an available path forward at the Security Council."

Russia's UN mission declined to comment on Power's remarks.

Russia, backed by China, has used its veto power three times to block council resolutions condemning Assad's government and threatening it with sanctions. Assad's government, like Russia, blames the rebels for the August 21 attack.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the State Department dismissed as "preposterous" Putin's statement that Secretary of State John Kerry lied to Congress about Al-Qaeda's role in Syria.

Spokeswoman Jan Psaki said Kerry is a decorated Vietnam war veteran and has had more than words aimed at him.

Psaki said Putin's "preposterous" comment was based on an inaccurate rendering of what Kerry said.

Putin said on September 4 that Kerry lied about Al-Qaeda in Syria, after Kerry told Congress the Syrian opposition was becoming more moderate.

The fresh tensions come with U.S. President Barack Obama in Russia, where Putin is hosting an economic summit of the G20 that is being overshadowed by the conflict in Syria.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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