DUBAI, September 10 (RIA Novosti) – Syria is ready to give up chemical weapons and join an international convention banning them, the country’s foreign minister said Tuesday.
“In line with Russia’s initiative, Syria will fully abandon chemical weapons,” Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said in an interview with the Al-Mayadeen pan-Arabic satellite television channel.
Damascus will declare its chemical arms facilities and stop producing such weapons, Muallem said. “We are ready to show chemical weapons facilities to representatives of Russia, other states and the United Nations,” he said.
Washington is currently contemplating a strike on Syria as retaliation for a deadly August 21 chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb, which it has attributed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Official Damascus has blamed the attack on rebel forces, and Russia has tentatively backed its long-time ally, while calling for further investigation.
Russia will soon put forward a “workable” plan for placing Syrian chemical weapons under international control, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday, following up on a day-old Russian proposal that has shifted the international debate on military intervention in war-torn Syria.
A day earlier, Lavrov announced that Moscow would push Damascus to accept an off-the-cuff proposal voiced Monday by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who said a US strike against Syrian targets could be averted if Damascus put “every single bit” of its chemical weapons under international control by week’s end. Syria’s foreign minister, in Moscow for talks, responded by saying Damascus “welcomes” the Russian initiative.
Lavrov and Kerry on Tuesday held a phone conversation and agreed to continue talks, including a possible meeting in the next few days to discuss ways to implement the Russian initiative on a settlement over Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing Australia’s UN envoy, that an emergency closed-door UN Security Council meeting on Syria was canceled after Russia withdrew its request for it.