U.S., Russia strike deal on Syria chemical weapons arsenal



The United States and Russia have agreed on a proposal to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday after nearly three days of talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Kerry said that, under the deal, Syria must submit a “comprehensive listing” of its chemical weapons stockpiles within one week.

If Syria fails to meet these demands, the U.N. Security Council will act, Lavrov said.

“In the case of those demands not being fulfilled, or in the case of anyone using chemical weapons, the Security Council will take measures according to chapter seven of the charter,” Lavrov said at a joint press conference with Kerry.

“Providing this framework is fully implemented it can end the threat these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people but also their neighbors,” Kerry told reporters at a joint with Lavrov, after wrapping up three days of negotiations in Geneva.

“Because of the threat of proliferation this framework can provide greater to the world,” he said.

“The world will now expect the Assad regime to live up to its commitments… There can be no room for games. Or anything less than by the Assad regime,” he added.

French feedback

France, one of the countries most strongly supporting an armed strike, hailed the agreement reached Saturday by the United States and Russia on a plan to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons as a breakthrough.

“The plan is a significant step forward,” said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in a statement according to AFP, after his Russian and U.S. counterparts obtained a deal in Switzerland.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov had shuttled with their delegations during their second day of talks in Geneva.

Along with the elimination of Syria’s chemical stockpile, Washington and Moscow were “working hard to find common ground” to get peace talks going in Geneva.

The talks would bring together Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the opposition to end the war which erupted in March 2011, Kerry said Friday.

The two sides “made progress in coming closer to agreement on the scope of the chemical weapons stockpile,” a senior U.S. administration official said, according to an Agence France-Presse report.

Meanwhile, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday lashed out at Assad and said a U.N. inspectors’ report into the incident would provide “overwhelming” confirmation that chemical weapons were used.

Assad had “carried out many crimes against humanity,” Ban said, insisting there had to be “accountability” once Syria’s civil war is over. 

According to U.S. estimates, Syria possesses around 1,000 metric tons of various chemical agents, including mustard and sarin gas, sulfur and VX, AFP reported.

The Russian estimates had been initially much lower, a U.S. official told AFP, without giving a figure.


Source: Alarabiya, AFP

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