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BERKLEY HEIGHTS: The White House said on Fri­­day the United States stro­n­gly condemned Rus­sia’s use of chemical weapons against a former Russian agent in Britain, two days after the US State Department anno­u­­nced sanctions over the move.

“The attack against Ser­gei and Yulia Skripal in Sal­i­s­bury, United Kingdom, on March 4, 2018, was a reckless display of contempt for the universally held norm against chemical weapons,” said a spokesman for the White House National Secu­rity Council in an email.

The spokesman said sanctions that the State Depart­ment said it would impose by the end of August fulfilled its legal obligations “after determining a foreign government has used chemical or biological weapons agai­nst its own nationals or in violation of international law".

Skripal, a former colonel in Russia’s GRU military intelligence service, and his 33-year-old daughter were found slumped unconscious on a bench in the southern English city of Salisbury in March, after a liquid form of the Novichok type of nerve agent was applied to his home’s front door.

President Donald Trump, who is spending the week at his golf property in New Jersey, did not comment on the recent sanctions when asked about them by a reporter on Thursday. Trump has sought to improve relations with Russia despite US intelligence findings that Moscow had meddled in the 2016 US presidential election.

European countries and the United States have expelled 100 Russian diplomats since that attack.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2018