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Tuesday 24 April 2018

Syria: We'll declare chemical arms

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem says his country has agreed to surrender its chemical weapons (AP)
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem says his country has agreed to surrender its chemical weapons (AP)
John Kerry called on Syria to hand over its chemical weapons arsenal (AP)
The Obama administration is attempting to reassure sceptics that the US is not heading towards another Iraq or Afghanistan (AP)

Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime will declare its chemical weapons arsenal and sign the chemical weapons convention, the country's foreign minister has said.

Walid al-Moallem also says Syria is ready to co-operate fully to implement a Russian proposal to put its chemical weapons arsenal under international control and it will stop producing chemical weapons.

He adds that Syria will also place chemical weapons locations in the hands of representatives of Russia, "other countries" and the United Nations.

He spoke exclusively to the Al-Mayadeen TV station.

Russian president Vladimir Putin says that the plan for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons stockpile will only work if the United States agrees not to use force. Mr Putin told reporters that the plan "can work, only in the event that we hear that the American side and those who support the USA, in this sense, reject the use of force."

US president Barack Obama has thrown his support behind a French resolution to the UN Security Council even as he pushes the idea of US airstrikes against Assad's regime if that effort fails. The resolution would demand that Syria open its chemical weapons programme to inspection, place it under international control, and ultimately dismantle it.

US Secretary of State John Kerry says Syria must do more than just declare its chemical weapons stockpiles and sign the international treaty that bans them if it wants the Russian-led effort to avert US military strikes to work.

Just minutes after the regime announced it would take those steps, Mr Kerry said he hoped that it would "go further" in the interests of peace. He said the Syrian government must "live up to what they said just said they would do" and then co-operate with Russia "to work out a formula by which those weapons could be transferred to international control and destroyed." He said the regime should also enter a genuine dialogue with the opposition.

The UN Security Council has cancelled a meeting on a resolution aimed at securing and destroying Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles. Australian Ambassador Gary Guinlan said in a Twitter message that the meeting was cancelled "following withdrawal of the request for consultations".

Press Association

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