UK, China discuss Douma chemical attack

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    British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday reiterated an independent international mechanism be formed to attribute responsibility to the perpetrators of attacks such as the one in Syria’s Douma.

    May’s comments came during a telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a government statement said.

    May and Xi discussed the “appalling chemical weapons attack” in Douma, according to the statement.

    May explained “our strikes had been proportionate, legal and responsible, and aimed at alleviating humanitarian suffering by degrading the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability and deterring their willingness to use them in the future.”

    Assad regime forces struck targets in the Damascus suburb’s Douma district earlier in April using a poisonous gas, which left at least 78 civilians dead, according to the White Helmets, a local civil defense agency.

    “The Syrian regime has an abhorrent record of using chemical weapons against its own people,” and the use of chemical weapons “has become an all-too-regular weapon of war in the Syrian conflict,” British representative to the OPCW Peter Wilson said earlier this week.

    Wilson’s statement came during an OPCW Executive Council Meeting following joint airstrikes by the U.S., U.K., and France on reported Assad regime chemical weapons facilities in Syria.

    Underlining the “importance of the international community working together to re-establish an independent mechanism that attributes responsibility to the perpetrators of attacks such as the one in Douma,” May spoke of “Russia’s blocking of diplomatic action,” the statement said.

    They also “agreed that the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, for any purposes was unacceptable,” after May noted that “the use of a nerve agent” against Yulia and Sergei Skripal in Salisbury was a “grave attack on the sovereign territory of the U.K.”

    May and Xi also welcomed the “progress on deepening the UK-China trade relationship,” noting that British prime minister’s China visit in January had been a great success.

    May reaffirmed the U.K.’s “commitment to free and fair trade, open markets and upholding and strengthening the multilateral global trading regime.”

    She also noted the “need to recognize and respect the international law of the sea, in the context of adherence to the wider rules-based international system.”

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