Friday, September 13, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday, September 13, 2013

Syria will give up control of chemical weapons

Syria will cede control of its chemical weapons to the international community, the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has said in a yet-to-be-aired interview on Russian television.

In what is believed to be his first public acknowledgement of the country’s chemical weapon stockpile, Interfax news agency quoted the president as saying the move had not been prompted by US military threats but Russian diplomatic efforts.

“Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia. The US threats did not influence the decision,” Interfax said, quoting the state-run Rossiya-24 channel’s yet-to-be-aired interview.

Assad also told Rossiya-24 that Syria would submit documents to the United Nations for an agreement governing the handover of its chemical arsenal.

The reports came hours before the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and US secretary of state, John Kerry, were due to meet in Geneva to discuss the proposal, which Lavrov announced on Monday along with Moscow’s plan for implementing it.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has said the initiative will not succeed unless Washington abandons plans for potential air strikes to punish Assad for a poison gas attack on 21 August that the US president, Barack Obama, blames on Syrian government forces. (Source: The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/12/bashar-al-assad-syria-chemical-weapons)