The United States on Wednesday indicated it no longer expects Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime to fully disclose its chemical-warfare assets this week, an expectation established several days ago under a U.S.-Russian plan for Damascus to eventually relinquish the stocks, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Our goal is to see forward momentum,” but not necessarily a full declaration, before Sunday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “We’ve never said it was a hard and fast deadline,” the spokeswoman added.
Several days ago, Secretary of State John Kerry said he and Russia’s top diplomat had decided Damascus would have one week to provide “a comprehensive listing” of its chemical-weapon assets. Washington would permit “no games, no room for avoidance, or anything less than full compliance,” he said then.
A senior Russian diplomat on Wednesday said Damascus “within a week” would send a chemical-arms declaration to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, ITAR-Tass reported. The Russian state-owned news agency did not specify whether the information would amount to a complete disclosure.
The 41-nation OPCW Executive Council is set on Friday to begin discussing formal procedures for eliminating the Assad government’s chemical arsenal, the Wall Street Journal reported. One expert said the council is likely to adopt a U.S.-Russian timeline calling for full destruction of the stockpile by the middle of next year, though the multilateral body is not obligated to do so.
Separately, Moscow intends by Friday to circulate Syrian-government indications that Assad’s opponents have carried out chemical strikes, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said in Thursday remarks quoted by ITAR-Tass.
In a Wednesday interview with Fox News, Assad challenged Washington to foot the bill for destroying the arms and “take the responsibility of bringing toxic materials to the United States,” Reuters reported. He also reaffirmed denials that his government had used its chemical arms in the Syrian civil war, now in its third year.
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When it comes to name-calling among America's upper echelon of politicians, there may be perhaps no greater spat than the one currently going on between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump. While receiving an award Tuesday night, she continued a months-long feud with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Calling him a "small, insecure moneygrubber" who probably doesn't know three things about Dodd-Frank, she said he "will NEVER be president of the United States," according to her prepared remarks."We don't know what Trump pays in taxes because he is the first presidential nominee in 40 years to refuse to disclose his tax returns. Maybe he’s just a lousy businessman who doesn’t want you to find out that he’s worth a lot less money than he claims." It follows a long-line of Warren attacks over Twitter, Facebook and in interviews that Trump is a sexist, racist, narcissistic loser. In reply, Trump has called Warren either "goofy" or "the Indian"—referring to her controversial assertion of her Native American heritage.
The House on Tuesday voted 403-12 "to pass an overhaul to the nation’s chemical safety standards for the first time in four decades. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act aims to answer years of complaints that the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the necessary authority to oversee and control the thousands of chemicals being produced and sold in the United States. It also significantly clamps down on states’ authorities, in an effort to stop a nationwide patchwork of chemical laws that industry says is difficult to deal with."
"Leaders of the Republican Party have begun internal deliberations over making fundamental changes to the way its presidential nominees are chosen, a recognition that the chaotic process that played out this year is seriously flawed and helped exacerbate tensions within the party." Among the possible changes: forbidding independent voters to cast ballots in Republican primaries, and "doubling the number of early states to eight."
Citing the unpredictable nature of this primary season and the possible leverage they could bring at the convention, John Kasich is hanging onto his 161 delegates. "Kasich sent personal letters Monday to Republican officials in the 16 states and the District of Columbia where he won delegates, requesting that they stay bound to him in accordance with party rules."
"Speaker Paul Ryan is changing the rules of how the House will consider spending measures to try to prevent Democrats from offering surprise amendments that have recently put the GOP on defense. ... Ryan announced at a House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning that members will now have to submit their amendments ahead of time so that they are pre-printed in the Congressional Record, according to leadership aides." The change will take effect after the Memorial Day recess.