Syria Agrees to Hand Over Chemical Arms

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Sept. 10, 2013, 7:02 a.m.

Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s top en­voy on Tues­day said Dam­as­cus has agreed to give up its chem­ic­al ar­sen­al in a bid to avert a pos­sible U.S. strike, USA Today re­por­ted.

The gov­ern­ment in Dam­as­cus on Monday “held a round of very fruit­ful ne­go­ti­ations with Rus­si­an For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lav­rov and he put for­ward an ini­ti­at­ive re­gard­ing chem­ic­al weapons. Already in the even­ing we ac­cep­ted Rus­sia’s ini­ti­at­ive,” Syr­i­an For­eign Min­is­ter Wal­id al-Mou­alem said.

As­sad’s gov­ern­ment ac­ceded to the re­quest in or­der to “de­rail the U.S. ag­gres­sion,” al-Mou­alem said.

France is de­vel­op­ing a U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil pro­pos­al aimed at im­ple­ment­ing the Rus­si­an ini­ti­at­ive, the Wash­ing­ton Post re­por­ted on Tues­day. French For­eign Min­is­ter Laurent Fabi­us sug­ges­ted the meas­ure would serve to cla­ri­fy the po­s­i­tions of Mo­scow and Beijing. The two gov­ern­ments so far have pre­ven­ted the 15-na­tion body from ap­prov­ing pun­it­ive meas­ures against Dam­as­cus for its tac­tics in the Syr­i­an civil war, now in its third year.

It still was un­cer­tain if Rus­sia would agree to the French text, ac­cord­ing to the Post. Mo­scow has ques­tioned West­ern as­ser­tions that As­sad’s re­gime em­ployed nerve gas last month in an at­tack that U.S. of­fi­cials con­tend was re­spons­ible for more than 1,400 deaths.

Pres­id­ent Obama, who is set to give a tele­vised speech on Syr­ia on Tues­day even­ing, on Monday said his ad­min­is­tra­tion “will pur­sue this dip­lo­mat­ic track.”

“I fer­vently hope that this can be re­solved in a non­mil­it­ary way,” he told Fox News in an in­ter­view — one among a half-dozen tele­vi­sion ap­pear­ances the pres­id­ent made on Monday aimed at gen­er­at­ing pub­lic and con­gres­sion­al sup­port for his Syr­ia ap­proach.

“I have in­struc­ted John Kerry to talk dir­ectly to the Rus­si­ans and run this to ground,” Obama told the “PBS News­Hour.” “And if we can ex­haust these dip­lo­mat­ic ef­forts and come up with a for­mula that gives the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity a veri­fi­able, en­force­able mech­an­ism to deal with these chem­ic­al weapons in Syr­ia, then I’m all for it.”

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id (D-Nev.) on Monday delayed a vote pre­vi­ously planned for Wed­nes­day on au­thor­iz­ing the use of mil­it­ary force against As­sad’s re­gime.

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