Albania announced on Friday it would not allow Syria’s chemical weapons to be destroyed on its soil, dealing a setback to the disarmament effort the same day an international body weighed a destruction plan for the munitions, Reuters reported.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama announced in a televised address that he denied the U.S. request to host destruction of the Syrian arms, which angry protesters decried in recent days in his country’s capital.
“We lack the necessary capacities to get involved in this operation,” said Rama, who assumed his post two months ago.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Executive Council had planned to approve on Friday a chemical-weapons destruction plan crafted by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. However, the 41-member council adjourned its meeting in The Hague during the day as it waited to hear whether Albanian would host the destruction work. As of press time, the chemical-weapons council still was expected to make a decision later in the day.
An OPCW source told Reuters on Friday that there “will be no host country in the decision this afternoon.”
Assad agreed in September to eliminate his roughly 1,300 metric tons of sarin nerve agent and mustard gas following international condemnation of an Aug. 21 chemical-arms attack on citizens during the nation’s bloody civil war.
The OPCW Executive Council reportedly was reviewing a draft destruction plan on Friday that calls for most chemical materials to be extracted from Syria by the end of the year and destroyed elsewhere.
Albania joins Norway in denying requests to become the site of destruction activities. Belgium and France also have been cited as possible hosts.
Nations are helping the OPCW-U.N. chemical-weapons effort in varied ways. Norway on Thursday said it would send troops and ships to Syria, despite rejecting the role of host for the chemical stocks. Denmark and Russia have considered offering similar assistance. Countries including the United States, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland also have contributed money for the disarmament work, which Assad said could cost $1 billion.
What We're Following See More »
Following their meeting, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, briefly addressed the media, with Peña Nieto subtly rebuking Trump's rhetoric. While he spoke respectfully about Trump, Peña Nieto did not back down, saying that free trade has proved effective and that illegal immigration into America from the south has decreased over the last ten years while the flow of people and drugs into Mexico has increased. Additionally, he stressed that Mexicans in America are "honest" and "deserve respect." Trump responded, calling some Mexicans "tremendous people" while saying others are "beyond reproach." Trump laid out five important issues, including the end of illegal immigration and the ability for either country to build a wall or border. However, Trump said he did not discuss who would pay for the wall.
A divided Supreme Court "refused Wednesday to reinstate North Carolina’s voter identification requirement and keep just 10 days of early in-person voting. The court rejected a request by Gov. Pat McCrory and other state officials to delay a lower court ruling that found the state law was tainted by racial discrimination."
"Police say a woman walked into U.S. Rep. Danny Davis' office on Chicago's West Side, drank out of a bottle of hand sanitizer, poured the sanitizer over herself and set herself on fire with a lighter." The Democrat wasn't in the office at the time.
"The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday awarded 44 states, four tribes and the District of Columbia a combined $53 million in grants to expand access to treatment for opioid use disorders and ultimately aimed at reducing the number of opioid-related deaths." But HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell and drug czar Michael Botticelli both called on Congress to approve the $1.1 billion Obama has requested to fight the opioid crisis.