Russian and U.S. leaders exchange criticisms on Syria, Iran
Russian officials said that the U.S. is "hindering progress" on settling the Iran nuclear issue while Obama called on Russia to urge Damascus to dispose its chemical weapons on time, calling it Moscow's "responsibility, according to Retuers and Agence France Presse.
Iran and world powers are scheduled to meet on Feb. 18 to discuss how to implement the landmark deal from November that curbs Iran's uranium enrichment activities and eases some Western sanctions. The deal, which took effect in late January, has been controversial among many policymakers in Washington who are calling for "the main superstructure of trade sanctions" to main intact against Iran. Last week, the U.S. Congress announced that companies and individuals would be barred from carrying out Iran-related financial transactions under U.S. jurisdiction.
"We clearly reject these kinds of (U.S.) steps This is a straight path to the destruction of a healthy and positive basis for further progress on resolving the problem related to the Iranian nuclear programme," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax news agency.
Russia has enjoyed better relations with Tehran than its U.S. counterpart, even helping Iran build its first nuclear power plant.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, also described current U.S. and Western economic sanctions as "brutal, illegal and wrong," and described Western threats of military force if the nuclear issue remains in dispute as "delusional..., rude and offensive."
While Russia criticized the U.S. on Iran, Washington was also talking about Russia, but regarding its policy and role in Syria.
U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters Tuesday that Moscow has a "responsibility" to ensure that Damascus hands over all of its chemical weapons as outlined in a U.S.-Russia brokered deal.
During a press conference with French President Francois Hollande, Obama stated, "Syria must meet its commitments and Russia has a responsibility to ensure that Syria complies."
Damascus has already missed two deadlines to remove its entire chemical weapon stockpile, but Syrian officials told reporters Tuesday that the country is on track to meet the final June 30 deadline as agreed upon.
Russia has previously stated that despite some setbacks, Syria is in the process of removing its weapons from its port city of Latakia in accordance with the US-Russia deal.
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