Syria welcomes international control over chemical weapons

Syria welcomes international control over chemical weapons | The Times of Israel.

( If Assad gives up his chemicals, he’ll defeat the rebels and have stood up to the “Great Satan.”  The US will look like a punch-drunk boxer on his last legs, and the new year will be toasted with vodka rather than champagne. – JW )

After meeting Syrian counterpart, Russian foreign minister says he’ll push Assad to give up WMDs to avoid airstrikes; Kerry: Attack can be averted if Damascus agrees to cede ‘every single bit’ of its chemical arsenal by week’s end

September 9, 2013, 6:14 pm Updated: September 9, 2013, 6:59 pm
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov welcomes his Syrian counterpart Walid Moallem (left), prior to talks in Moscow on Monday, September 9, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Ivan Sekretarev)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov welcomes his Syrian counterpart Walid Moallem (left), prior to talks in Moscow on Monday, September 9, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Ivan Sekretarev)

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem on Monday welcomed Moscow’s proposal to submit Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles to international control, Reuters reported. The surprise announcement came hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry said such a move could avert a limited US strike on the country in retaliation for a lethal August 21 chemical weapons attack.

“Syria welcomes the Russian proposal out of concern for the lives of the Syrian people, the security of our country and because it believes in the wisdom of the Russian leadership that seeks to avert American aggression against our people,” Moallem said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, a key US ally, reacted favorably to Syria’s declaration, saying the notion of putting the Assad regime’s stockpile of chemical weapons under international supervision was “a big step forward.” He warned, however, that “we have to be careful, though, to make sure this is not a distraction tactic to discuss something else rather than the problem on the table.”

Earlier Monday, Kerry said that Syrian President Bashar Assad could resolve the crisis surrounding the alleged use of chemical weapons by his forces by surrendering control of “every single bit” of his arsenal to the international community by the end of the week.

Kerry added that he thought Assad “isn’t about to do it,” but Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who had just wrapped up a round of talks in Moscow with Moallem, said that Moscow would try to convince the Syrians to do so.

“If the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in that country would allow avoiding strikes, we will immediately start working with Damascus,” Lavrov said.

“We are calling on the Syrian leadership to not only agree to placing chemical weapons storage sites under international control, but also on its subsequent destruction and fully joining the treaty on prohibition of chemical weapons,” he said.

His statement followed media reports alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who discussed Syria with President Barack Obama during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg last week, sought to negotiate a deal that would have Assad hand over control of chemical weapons.

Speaking earlier in the day, Lavrov denied that Russia was trying to sponsor any deal “behind the back of the Syrian people.”

The Russian move comes as Obama, who has accused Assad of killing over 1,400 of his own people in the chemical attack last month, is pressing for a limited strike against the Syrian government. Assad has denied responsibility for the attack, insisting that it had been launched by the rebels to drag the US into the war.

Lavrov and Moallem said after their talks that UN chemical weapons experts should complete their probe and present their findings to the United Nations Security Council.

Moallem said his government was ready to host the UN team, and insisted that Syria is ready to use all channels to convince the Americans that it wasn’t behind the attack.

He added that Syria was ready for “full cooperation with Russia to remove any pretext for aggression.”

Neither minister, however, offered any evidence to back their claim of rebel involvement in the chemical attack.

Lavrov said that Russia would continue to promote a peaceful settlement and may try to convene a gathering of all Syrian opposition figures to join in negotiations. He added that a US attack on Syria would deal a fatal blow to peace efforts.

Lavrov wouldn’t say how Russia could respond to a possible US attack on Syria, saying that “we wouldn’t like to proceed from a negative scenario and would primarily take efforts to prevent a military intervention.”

Putin said that Moscow would keep providing assistance to Syria in case of a US attack, but he and other Russian officials have made clear that Russia has no intention of engaging in hostilities.

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5 Comments on “Syria welcomes international control over chemical weapons”

  1. I think it should be obvious the everyone now that strikes on Syria by the US is off.

  2. John Prophet Says:

    I sense a huge sea change here ripe with possibility. No reason Russia can’t join the world in backing things away from a big war!

    President Obama’s “Plan A” for a military strike on Syria could be in danger just one day before he makes his case to the American people as Russia, the U.N. and some in Congress push for a newly emerging “Plan B.”

    Gaining traction is a push to compel the Assad regime to turn over its chemical weapons.

    The idea caught fire unexpectedly on Monday after Secretary of State John Kerry made an off-hand comment that Syria could resolve the stand-off by relinquishing its chemical weapons within a week. Kerry claimed that Assad “isn’t about to do it” — and an aide suggested the secretary was not being serious.

    But within hours, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow would push Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and British Prime Minister David Cameron also reportedly indicated support for the plan. And a pair of U.S. senators is already pushing an alternative resolution in Congress that would achieve similar goals.

    Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D, who are opposed to a strike on Syria at this time, are pushing a resolution that would give Syria 45 days to join the international convention against chemical weapons and take “concrete steps” to comply with it.

    In a written statement, Heitkamp said this would have Bashar Assad “begin the process of turning over its chemical weapons.”

    “If, after 45 days, the Assad regime mistakes our deliberate and careful democratic process for lack of will and immunity, it does so at its own peril,” she said.

    Read more:

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