Trump And May To Talk As UK Rallies Allies After Russian Spy Poisoning

LONDON (Alliance News) - UK Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump planned to ...

Alliance News 13 March, 2018 | 4:58PM
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LONDON (Alliance News) - UK Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump planned to discuss May's conclusion that it was "highly likely" Russia was behind the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian spy, Trump said.

"It sounds to me like it would be Russia based on all the evidence they have," Trump told reporters on Tuesday.

"It sounds to me like they believe it was Russia and I would certainly take that finding as fact," he said.

"As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be."

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said earlier that France, Germany, the US and other allies were showing "support and solidarity" after Britain's ultimatum to Russia to explain the presence of a rare nerve agent that poisoned former double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33.

Johnson said British ministers had been "talking to friends and partners, explaining what we see as the high likelihood of Russian state agency."

May said late Monday that experts had confirmed the poison used in the English city of Salisbury on the Skripals was a Novichok-type "military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia."

May said Russia's ambassador had been summoned by Johnson to give an explanation for the presence of the nerve agent in Britain and had until the end of Tuesday to give a "credible response."

Her government would "consider in detail the response from the Russian state" on Wednesday, she said.

But it remains unclear if Moscow will respond, after the Russian foreign ministry said it first wanted to examine samples of the nerve agent.

"The Russian Federation is not involved in the incident in Salisbury on March 4 of this year," the statement said, suggesting that British authorities could be engaging in provocation.

Johnson said he had spoken to German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, while May spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron.

May's office said Macron had "condemned the attack and offered his solidarity with the UK."

"They agreed that the French and British governments should coordinate closely as the investigation developed and following Russia's response," it said.

Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the European Commission, also expressed his "strong feelings of solidarity with the British people and the British government."

"We stand with you," Timmermans said on Twitter.

In Moscow earlier Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted that "Russia is not guilty" of the poisoning.

"We have already stated that this is nonsense. We have had no involvement," Lavrov told reporters.

The Skripals are fighting for their lives in hospital after being exposed to the nerve agent.

A police officer also remains in hospital, while 38 others were tested for possible exposure and one person is being treated as an out-patient, said Neil Basu, Britain's top counter-terrorism officer.

The police have still not mentioned any suspects and Basu said he was leading an "extremely challenging investigation."

"We are not declaring a person of interest or a suspect at this time," he told reporters.

By Bill Smith and Peter Spinella, dpa

Copyright dpa

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