Russia Foreign Minister accuses UK of behaving in 'boorish' way

LONDON Britain, France, Germany and the US condemned a nerve agent attack on a Russian ex-spy and his daughter, saying there was "no plausible alternative explanation" to Moscow's involvement.

"We, the leaders of France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom, abhor the attack that took place against Sergei and Yulia Skripal" in the English city of Salisbury on March 4, said the rare joint statement issued by the British government.

"We share the UK assessment that there is no plausible alternative explanation, and note that Russia's failure to address the legitimate request by the UK government further underlines its responsibility."

Britain has linked the attack to Soviet-designed nerve agents known as Novichok, and accused Moscow of failing to explain how the poison came to be used on English soil.

"We call on Russia to address all questions related to the attack in Salisbury," the four world powers said in their statement. "Russia should in particular provide full and complete disclosure of the Novichok programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon."

The Salisbury poisoning is the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War.

It amounts to "a breach of international law. It threatens the security of us all," the US and European leaders said.

Russia said yesterday it would retaliate for Britain's expulsion of 23 diplomats. - AFP, REUTERS