MOSCOW, (PNA/RIA Novosti) -– U.S. Congress members would not have rejected a meeting with Russian parliamentarians without pressure from the U.S. leadership, a senior Russian senator said Friday.
“A number of American congressmen were initially positive about our proposal to meet, but very quickly their position changed,” Ilyas Umakhanov, deputy speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, said in a statement.
“It is hard to imagine that this happened without pressure from the U.S. administration,” he added.
Umakhanov said the refusal to meet meant that “the position of the U.S. side was weak” and that the United States did not have incontestable proof that chemical weapons in Syria had been used by government forces rather than rebels.
“We are deeply disappointed with the reaction of U.S. legislators to a proposal by Russian parliamentarians to optimize the inter-parliament dialogue or find a peaceful solution to the situation in Syria,” he said.
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Wednesday to give U.S. President Barack Obama the authority to use military force against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack last month.
Russia has urged all sides in the Syrian civil war to use diplomatic means to end it.