Ambassador Rice: U.N. chemical weapons investigation in Syria remains stalled

Syria continues to deny access to the U.N. chemical weapon investigation team despite the country's initial willingness to facilitate the visit, the U.S. permanent representative to the U.N. said on Wednesday.

Ambassador Susan Rice made the statement at a Security Council stakeout on Wednesday in New York. Rice said the U.S. is disappointed that Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime has yet to allow the team access for its investigation.

"We're very obviously interested in the mission having the ability to enter Syria-unfettered, with complete access, and able to conduct a comprehensive investigation into any and all credible allegations of chemical weapons use," Rice said. "And we're not surprised but indeed disappointed that the Syrians have reneged on their initial willingness to admit that investigative team, and thus, the investigation remains stalled."

Rice said the U.S. has had two opportunities to brief Ake Sellstrom, the team leader, on the country's best understanding of available chemical weapons information in Syria.

"We have had the opportunity now twice to brief Mr. Sellstrom and his team, including a few weeks ago in Washington where he had the opportunity to sit with U.S. experts and to hear our best understanding of the information available to us at that time," Rice said. "And we continue to be in communication with the U.N. team that is to investigate the use-or the potential use-of chemical weapons. We'll continue to provide relevant information as time goes on."

Rice was unable to give a timetable for setting a date for the upcoming Syrian peace conference organized by the U.S. and Russia.