Lavrov: US Claims of Russia Arming Taliban Smokescreen to Divert Focus from Syria

MOSCOW-Washington’s recent accusations that Moscow supplies the Taliban with weapons are unprofessional and baseless, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, adding that the US has not provided any evidence.

Lavrov was speaking at a press conference following talks with OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier in Moscow.

According to Itar Tass, the Russian foreign minister said that Washington’s claims are a possible smokescreen aimed at diverting attention from changing course on Syria and returning to ‘regime-change’ rhetoric.

UK Threat of Nuclear Strike Deserves Harsh Response - Russia MP

A Russian lawmaker has reacted sharply to remarks by British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon about the UK’s readiness to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against “enemies,” stressing that the comments deserve a “tough response.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Monday, Fallon said the government of Prime Minister Theresa May could not rule out using nuclear weapons as a first preemptive strike “in the most extreme circumstances.”

Moscow Doesn't Rule out Possible False Flag Chemical Attacks near Damascus

MOSCOW- Moscow is not ruling out the possibility that more false flag attacks involving chemical weapons in Syria might be staged by militants near Damascus soon, a senior Russian foreign ministry official said on Monday, according to Itar Tass.

"The major threat now is that militants have made certain they can use chemical weapons and our Western partners will immediately point their fingers at Damascus," Mikhail Ulyanov, director of the ministry’s non-proliferation and arms control department, said at a news conference. "Without any investigation, Damascus will be accused of using chemical weapons against its own people. Further such ‘shows’ will follow. Quite probably, they will be staged in Damascus’ suburbs in the coming days."

Lavrov, Mogherini Urge Transparent Investigation into Alleged Chemical Incident in Khan Sheikhoun

MOSCOW- Russia expects the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send its experts to the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun and the Shayrat airfield to probe the alleged chemical incident, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday during  a press conference with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, according to Itar Tass.

‘We’ll be expecting that the OPCW will send its specialists after all to Khan Sheikhoun and Shayrat strictly on the basis of its mandate which requires ensuring the widest possible geographical representation of experts," the Russian foreign minister said.

Political Settlement Only Way to Solve Crisis in Syria: China

CAIRO-China's Special Envoy for Syria Xie Xiaoyan has stressed that the only way out of the crisis in Syria is political settlement based on dialogue, according to the Chinese News Agency Xinhua.  

The Agency quoted Xiaoyan as saying to Chinese and Egyptian media representatives in Cairo that he does not see a quick fix to the Syrian issue, stressing that military option against Syria is not a solution.

Xie Xiaoyan is on an official visit to Cairo where he met with officials from the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs to discuss the solutions possible to the crisis in Syria.

Speaking about the situation in Syria, he said the situation remains tense and precarious, most notably after the alleged chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun.

Iran Inks Deal with China to Redesign Arak Reactor

Representatives of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and a Chinese company on Sunday signed a contract in Vienna, Austria, to redesign the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor.

Signing the deal took place at the premises of Iran's mission to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Vienna. It is a turning point in redesigning and modernization of Arak heavy water reactor.

Macron, Le Pen Heading for French Presidential Race

 Far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron have advanced to France's presidential runoff scheduled for May 7.

According to the preliminary results released late on Sunday, the two candidates are engaged in a close race as a spokesman For defeated candidate, François Fillon, says he has suffered 'huge disappointment'. Macron is leading with 23.7 percent, with Le Pen at 22 percent, according to French media.

Moscow Ready to Provide Syria with Needed Air Defense Systems

MOSCOW- Russia is ready to provide Syria with the air defense systems it needs if such an agreement is reached, Russian Senator Viktor Ozerov  said Saturday.

"The necessary quantity [of air defense systems] can be supplied on a priority basis, it will not require additional burden for the defense industry," the chairman of the Russian upper house defense and security committee, Ozerov said, according to Sputnik.