British ambassador to snub Moscow meeting on spy attack: embassy

PTI
Wednesday, 21 March 2018

"The ambassador will not be attending the meeting," Zeenat Khanche, spokeswoman for the British embassy in Moscow, told AFP.

MOSCOW: The British ambassador will snub a meeting that the Russia foreign ministry called to explain Moscow's view on the poisoning of an ex-double agent in England, the embassy said today.

"The ambassador will not be attending the meeting," Zeenat Khanche, spokeswoman for the British embassy in Moscow, told AFP.

Instead, the diplomatic mission considered sending to the meeting an official at the "working level," added Khanche, declining to provide further details.

The head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Russia will also not attend because "he is not the country," its spokeswoman, Luca Eszter Kadar, told AFP.

Instead, his deputy, Sven-Olov Carlsson, will attend the gathering, she said.

On Tuesday, Moscow had invited all ambassadors to Russia to a meeting with foreign ministry experts to hear Russia's views on the poisoning of a former double agent in England.

Vladimir Yermakov, director of the ministry's non-proliferation and arms control department, will brief foreign embassy representatives at 1200 GMT Wednesday, an official told AFP.

The March 4 nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury has led to a crisis in ties between Moscow and London.

Britain says only Russia had the capability, motive and intent to be behind the attack, in which it says the nerve agent Novichok, developed by the Soviet Union, was used.

Russia denies any responsibility.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said Wednesday's meeting would be an opportunity for "Russia's view to be expressed to official representatives of foreign states."

The meeting would be with "leaders and experts from the department charged with non-proliferation and arms-control issues," she added.

Britain has thrown out 23 Russian diplomats over the attack, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Moscow. 

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