Russia Urges Syria to Cede Arsenal In Response to Kerry

1378723624000-AP-Britain-US-KerryIs the tide turning on Syria? I hope it is…

Secretary of State John Kerry said today “that if President Bashar al-Assad wants to avert an attack on Syria he should hand over all of his chemical weapons within one week.” It’s some heavy diplomatic pressure from the U.S. on Syria and it appears that “Russia, the Syrian government’s most important backer, quickly welcomed the idea.”

[…] Moscow’s reaction appeared to represent the first possible point of agreement between Russia and the United States over how to address the chemical weapons issue that has grown out of the Syrian conflict, now well into its third year.

Asked if there were steps the Syrian president could take to avert an American-led attack, Mr. Kerry said, “Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week — turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting.”

Kerry also sought to re-iterate today, that there would no boots on the ground if we did indeed strike Syria:

We will be able to hold Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging in troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort in a very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria’s civil war,” Mr. Kerry said “That is exactly what we are talking about doing — unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”

Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister “said in response to Mr. Kerry’s remarks that Russia would join any effort to put Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons under international control and ultimately destroy them.”

Mr. Lavrov appeared at a previously unscheduled briefing only hours after Mr. Kerry made his statement in London. Although Mr. Kerry appeared to treat the idea that Syria would give up its stockpile as improbable, Mr. Lavrov seized on it as a possible compromise that Russia was prepared to propose to the Syrians.

“We don’t know whether Syria will agree with this, but if the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in the country will prevent attacks, then we will immediately begin work with Damascus,” Mr. Lavrov said at the Foreign Ministry. “And we call on the Syrian leadership to not only agree to setting the chemical weapons storage sites under international control, but also to their subsequent destruction.”

We must keep pressing for a diplomatic resolution to the issue of chemical weapons in Syria. Secretary Of State Kerry is on the right track… He knows what’s at stake.

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