TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Russia opened up a possible diplomatic solution to the Syrian chemical weapons crisis on Monday with a pledge to persuade the Syrian government to hand over its chemical arsenal to international supervision to be destroyed.
Russia’s new initiative was announced by its foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, hours after the US secretary of state, John Kerry, suggested that the Syrian government could avert punitive US air strikes in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack on 21 August, if it surrendered “every single bit” of its arsenal by the end of the week.
However, Kerry added that Assad “isn’t about to do it”, and the state department hastily issued a clarification saying that apparent ultimatum was “rhetorical” rather than a concrete bargaining position.
But Lavrov appeared to seize on the idea as a means of averting US military intervention, Guardian reported.
“If the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in that country would allow avoiding strikes, we will immediately start working with Damascus,” he said.
“We are calling on the Syrian leadership to not only agree on placing chemical weapons storage sites under international control, but also on its subsequent destruction and fully joining the treaty on prohibition of chemical weapons,” Lavrov said after a meeting with his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Muallem.
He added that he has already handed over the proposal to Muallem and expected a “quick, and, hopefully, positive answer”. Muallem was quoted by the French Press Agency as welcoming the Russian proposal.
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