In a bid to avert US military strikes, Syria on Tuesday said it had accepted a Russian proposal to place its chemical weapons under international control for dismantling.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov had raised the proposal on Monday during his meeting with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem, who on Tuesday said his country had agreed. It would “knock the chair from under the legs of American aggression”, he said.
Russia — Syria’s most powerful ally — is now working with it to prepare a plan of action that will be presented soon, Lavrov said. It will then be finalised with UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
The announcement was welcomed by nations worldwide, including India. “We have consistently advocated complete elimination of chemical weapons,” said external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.
But doubts remain if the proposal will be enough to forestall American action. Even as President Barack Obama said the move could “potentially be a significant breakthrough” and agreed to a UN discussion, the US would continue to pursue the military option.
Meanwhile, China on backed the Russian plan.
"We welcome and support the Russian side's suggestion," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a regular briefing in Beijing.
"As long as the suggestion is conducive to easing the current tension in Syria, solving the Syria issue politically and safeguarding peace and stability of Syria and the region, the international community should give positive consideration to it," he added.
(With HTC inputs from Delhi)