US says chemical arms inspectors still have not entered site of Syrian attack
admin • April 18, 2018 • 2271
A boy walks along a damaged street at the city of Douma in Damascus, Syria, April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
The United States believes inspectors from a global chemical weapons watchdog have not yet been able to enter the site of the April 7 alleged chemical weapons attack on the Syrian town of Douma.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Tuesday she was aware of reports from Syria that inspectors from the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons had been able to see the site but the team has not entered Douma.
She said the United States had information that both chlorine and sarin nerve gas were used in the attack and was concerned that evidence was deteriorating the longer inspectors were kept from reaching the site.
“The longer that it takes to get OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) inspectors in to take a look at soil samples and other information that they can get on the ground, that delay further degrades any evidence that’s on the ground. So that is our chief concern,” Nauert said. — Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday (July 30) the “tide is turning” in U.S. dealings with China, saying there is international support for American policies, including the step-up of maritime maneuvers in the South China Sea.
Reflecting rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, Pompeo took a tough line on China in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“We see the Chinese Communist Party for what it is: the center threat of our times,” Pompeo said.
In recent days, Washington and Beijing have each closed one of the other country’s consulates – the United States closing China’s office in Houston and China retaliating by shuttering the U.S. facility in Chengdu – and Pompeo recently announced an end to Hong Kong’s special trading status.
“We closed the consulate in Houston because it was a den of spies,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo was testifying publicly at Foreign Relations Committee hearing for the first time in 15 months, discussing the State Department’s annual budget request.
President Donald Trump’s administration has tried to slash the State Department budget since it took office, which has been rejected by Congress every year. Democratic lawmakers told the hearing that they would not support steep cuts this year either. (Reuters)
Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday informed the U.S. Embassy in China of its decision to withdraw its consent for the establishment and operation of the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu.
The ministry also made specific requirements on the ceasing of all operations and events by the Consulate General, said a statement issued by the ministry.
On July 21, the United States launched a unilateral provocation by abruptly demanding that China close its Consulate General in Houston, the statement said.
The U.S. move seriously breached international law, the basic norms of international relations, and the terms of the China-U.S. Consular Convention. It gravely harmed China-U.S. relations, said the statement.
The measure taken by China is a legitimate and necessary response to the unjustified act by the United States. It conforms with international law, the basic norms of international relations, and customary diplomatic practices, said the statement.
The statement said the current situation in China-U.S. relations is not what China desires to see, and the United States is responsible for all this.
“We once again urge the United States to immediately retract its wrong decision and create necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track,” the statement added. (Reuters)
President Donald Trump said on Wednesday (July 22) it was “always possible” he would order the closure of more Chinese consulates in the United States in the wake of the State Department’s order to close Beijing’s consulate in Houston.
Trump, at a White House news conference, noted that a fire was spotted on the Houston consulate’s grounds after the State Department ordered the closure in 72 hours, marking a dramatic deterioration in relations between the world’s two biggest economies.
The U.S. State Department said earlier on Wednesday the Chinese mission in Houston was being closed “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”
Overnight in Houston, firefighters went to the consulate after smoke was seen. Two U.S. government officials said they had information that documents were being burned there.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the consulate was operating normally.
The ministry said Washington had abruptly issued the demand to close the consulate on Tuesday and called it an “unprecedented escalation.” (Reuters)
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