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Merkel says taking UK claims of Russia link to spy attack ‘extremely seriously’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday said she took the British government’s claim that Russia was involved in the poisoning of an ex-spy “extremely seriously”, urging Moscow to provide “swift answers”.

“The chancellor condemned the attack in the strongest possible way and assured that she took the British government’s assessment on the issue of Russian involvement extremely seriously,” Merkel’s office said in a statement.

The comments came after Merkel spoke by phone with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Merkel also called on Moscow to urgently reveal details of any chemical weapons programme following the alleged use of a banned nerve agent in the attack.

“It is up to Russia to provide swift answers to the justified questions of the British government, and comply with the request to comprehensively and promptly disclose the relevant chemical weapons programme to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW),” the statement said.

The OPCW verified the destruction of Russia’s declared chemical weapons programme last year.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel had earlier said that any Russian connection to the poisoning in Britain of a former double agent would be a “very serious matter”.

May on Tuesday said it was “highly likely” Moscow had attempted to assassinate Sergei Skripal, accusations furiously denied by the Kremlin.

The former double agent and his daughter remain in critical condition after the brazen nerve agent attack on a street in the southern English city of Salisbury.

Russia has rejected May’s accusations as “another dirty attempt by British authorities to discredit Russia.”