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Putin, Merkel agree UN Council must study Syria probe: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed Thursday on the need for the UN Security Council to study a report by UN experts on the alleged chemical attack outside Damascus, the Kremlin said.

“Both sides proceed from the fact that active work will be continued within the framework of the United Nations and other formats on issues of a political and diplomatic settlement of the current situation,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

“In particular, it is important that the Security Council examines a report by UN inspectors about possible facts of the use of chemical weapons in Syria,” it added.

In Berlin, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert confirmed the telephone conversation, saying Putin and Merkel agreed that the “conflict can only be resolved politically”.

The German chancellor “emphasised that the inhumane poison gas attack against Syrian civilians requires an international reaction,” Seibert added.

The conversation comes as Russia is expected to veto any attempts to win UN Security Council backing for Western-led military action against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad over last week’s attack, which activists say killed hundreds of people.

The United States, Britain and France have said Assad’s regime was to blame for the alleged chemical attack but Russia has suggested it was the rebels seeking to discredit the regime.

The German government spokesman said that Merkel, who will fight for a third term in September 22 elections, had told Putin that discussions at the UN Security Council should lead to a “unanimous and quick international reaction”.

“She is hoping for a quick conclusion to the UN inspection mission and a comprehensive report for the UN Security Council,” Seibert’s statement said.

Speaking on Russian national television, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said it was important to “undertake all the necessary steps to prevent the possible negative development of the situation” or the use of force against Syria.

“We are working towards that goal, our efforts are aimed at that,” state-run ITAR-Tass new agency quoted him as saying.