UK urges ‘strong’ response to alleged Syria chemical attack

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrives in Downing Street in London, Britain, March 13, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 09 April 2018
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UK urges ‘strong’ response to alleged Syria chemical attack

LONDON: British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Monday called for a "strong and robust international response" to an alleged poison gas attack on a rebel-held town near Damascus.
Speaking with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on the phone, Johnson "underlined the urgent need to investigate what had happened in Douma and to ensure a strong and robust international response," the Foreign Office said in a statement.
US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron earlier also called for a "strong, joint response" to the suspected chemical attack on Saturday that killed dozens of people.
Syria and its ally Russia have dismissed allegations that the attack was carried out by Syrian forces as "fabrications" and have warned against using them to justify military action.
Damascus and Moscow accused Israel on Monday of carrying out a deadly dawn bombing raid on a military airbase in Syria.
The Foreign Office statement did not apportion blame for the alleged chemical attack.
But it said that Le Drian and Johnson "noted that international investigators mandated by the UN Security Council had found the Assad regime responsible for using poison gas in at least four separate attacks since 2014".
The two "agreed that those responsible for this attack must be held to account" and a UN Security Council meeting on Monday would be "an important next step in determining the international response and that a full range of options should be on the table," it added.
Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman called reports of a chemical weapons attack "deeply disturbing" and said Britain would work with its allies on "a coordinated approach".
The spokesman said Britain was "not involved" in the bombing raid on a Syrian airbase.


US Mideast plan will not include land transfer from Egypt’s Sinai: envoy

Updated 20 April 2019
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US Mideast plan will not include land transfer from Egypt’s Sinai: envoy

JERUSALEM: US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan will not involve giving land from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula to the Palestinians, an American envoy said on Friday.
Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East envoy, apparently sought to deny reports on social media that the long-awaited plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would involve extending Gaza into the northern Sinai along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast.
“Hearing reports our plan includes the concept that we will give a portion of Sinai (which is Egypt’s) to Gaza. False!,” Greenblatt, one of the architects of the proposal, tweeted on Friday.
The American plan is expected to be unveiled once Israel’s newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forms a government coalition and after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends in June.
Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner said on Wednesday the plan would require compromise by all parties, a source familiar with his remarks said.
It is unclear whether the plan will propose outright the creation of a Palestinian state, the Palestinians’ core demand.
The Palestinians have long sought to set up a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The last round of US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014.