Russia disagrees with U.S. assessment of chemical weapon use in Syria
Ben Rhodes, the White House's deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, made the remarks on Friday during a press briefing. Rhodes responded to questions about a statement made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that doubted the validity of the recent U.S. chemical weapons assessment. Rhodes said the U.S. and Russia have a relationship that can handle disagreements.
"We still continue to discuss with the Russians whether there is a way to bring together elements of the regime and the opposition to achieve a political settlement," Rhodes said. "There are no illusions that that's going to be easy. We still have a difference with the Russians, for instance, on the fact that we believe Bashar al-Assad would have to leave power as a part of that process. But we'll continue those talks. And frankly, the type of relationship we have with the Russians is such that even as we have disagreements, and even strong disagreements in some areas, we want to work together on issues where we do have convergence of interest, such as nuclear security, counterterrorism, and the situation in Afghanistan."
Rhodes said the U.S. briefed Russia on its broad range of evidence related to the multiple purported incidents of chemical weapons use by Bashar al-Assad's regime. He reasserted that the U.S. has high confidence that the nerve gas sarin was used.
President Barack Obama planned to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday as part of a bilateral meeting after the first plenary session of the G8 conference. Rhodes said that Syria and the chemical weapons assessment would be discussed during the meeting.