Moscow said an international task force is poised to re-enter Syria on Wednesday to look further at allegations of chemical-weapons use in the country’s civil war, Reuters reported.
Russia last week criticized the initial U.N. findings that nerve gas was used in an Aug. 21 attack, which have widely been seen to implicate its Damascus ally in that release over a Damascus suburb.
Moscow, though, is “pleased” that the investigators now are expected to probe “other episodes” of possible chemical-weapon use, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday. Russia has joined Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government in blaming such strikes on rebel forces.
States parties to an international chemical-arms ban on Tuesday were consulting on a “draft decision” for dismantling Syria’s chemical arsenal, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons stated. The 41-nation OPCW Executive Council was due on Tuesday to vote on a U.S.-Russian blueprint for monitoring and destroying the stockpile, Reuters reported.
Envoys said the U.N. Security Council could act as soon as Thursday to pass a measure backing the OPCW text. Russia, though, has continued opposing calls by Western governments for the Security Council to endorse possible punitive action for any noncompliance by Damascus.
“There can be no talk of any automatic application of sanctions, let alone the use of force,” Reuters quoted Ryabkov as saying on Tuesday.
Specialists said eliminating the weapons by next June — as the U.S.-Russian disarmament plan demands — would be a challenge for the international community, the New York Times reported on Monday.
“If you want to act quickly, the technical decisions have to be made now, while the diplomats are working,” said Lenny Siegel, head of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight. “This is difficult stuff and it’s costly but the technologies exist — though most people don’t know that.”
Meanwhile, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on Monday rejected a Syrian rebel assertion that it had taken custody of chemical arms from Syria, the Daily Star reported.
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"As Donald Trump captures the mantle of presumptive Republican nominee, a new poll finds he begins his general election campaign well behind Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. The new CNN/ORC Poll, completed ahead of Trump's victory last night, found Clinton leads 54% to 41%, a 13-point edge over the New York businessman, her largest lead since last July. Clinton is also more trusted than Trump on many issues voters rank as critically important, with one big exception. By a 50% to 45% margin, voters say Trump would do a better job handling the economy than Clinton would."
In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal sets out to relieve conservatives of the temptation to back a third-party candidate over Donald Trump. "The thought is more tempting this year than most, but it’s still hard to see how this would accomplish more than electing Hillary Clinton and muddling the message from a Trump defeat. ... The usual presidential result is that the party that splinters hands the election to the other, more united party." But in the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol is having none of it: "Serious people, including serious conservatives, cannot acquiesce in Donald Trump as their candidate. ... Donald Trump should not be president of the United States. The Wall Street Journal cannot bring itself to say that. We can say it, we do say it, and we are proud to act accordingly."
- Nate Cohn, New York Times: "There have been 10-point shifts over the general election season before, even if it’s uncommon. But there isn’t much of a precedent for huge swings in races with candidates as well known as Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton. A majority of Americans may not like her, but they say they’re scared of him."
- Roger Simon, PJ Media: "He is particularly fortunate that his opposition, Hillary Clinton, besides still being under threat of indictment and still not having defeated Bernie Sanders (go figure), is a truly uninspiring, almost soporific, figure. ... She's not a star. Trump is. All attention will be on him in the general election. The primaries have shown us what an advantage that is. What that means for American politics may not all be good, but it's true."
- The editors, The Washington Examiner: "At the very least, Trump owes it to the country he boasts he will 'make great again' to try to demonstrate some seriousness about the office he seeks. He owes this even to those who will never consider voting for him. He can start by swearing off grand displays of aggressive and apparently deliberate ignorance. This is not too much to ask."
Humana announced it plans to "exit certain statewide individual markets and products 'both on and off [Obamacare] exchange,' the insurer said in its financial results released Monday." The company also said price hikes may be forthcoming, "commensurate with anticipated levels of risk by state." Its individual-market enrollment was down 21% in the first quarter from a year ago.