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Watchdog probes Syria’s chemical stockpiles

world Updated: Sep 21, 2013 13:01 IST
AFP
Syria crisis

The world's chemical weapons watchdog on Saturday began to examine the details of Syria's chemical arsenal before finally initiating the process of dismantling them.

Earlier, the US and Russia had agreed to dismantle Syria’s chemical arms stockpile which had helped prevent US-led military action. The use of chemical weapons last month had killed hundreds of people. The US had blamed the President Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria for that and had threatened military action bypassing the UN line of action through negotiation.

Under the US-Russia agreement, Assad's regime was to hand over the supply details of its arsenal to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

On Friday, the weapons watchdog said it "has received an initial disclosure from the Syrian government of its chemical weapons programme." Its technical secretariat is now examining the details, it said.

Meanwhile, China has urged a quick implementation of a landmark US-Russian deal to destroy Syria's chemical stockpile.

In New York, UN envoys were due to resume talks on a draft Security Council resolution that would enshrine the plan to neutralise the lethal weapons.

On the ground, rebels agreed a truce with jihadists in a key border town, while a senior Syrian official said Damascus wanted a ceasefire to the 30-month war, which has killed more than 110,000 people and forced more than two million to flee.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said Beijing would "support the early launch of the process to destroy Syria's chemical weapons".

He also called for a proposed peace conference in Geneva to take place "as soon as possible".

"We believe that a political settlement is the only right way out in defusing the Syrian crisis," he added.

A UN diplomat said the OPCW had received the Syrian declaration on Thursday. "It is quite lengthy," he said.

The OPCW has postponed a meeting of its Executive Council set for tomorrow that had been due to discuss how to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons programme.

Russia and the United States had brokered the deal which stipulates that the regime hand over the chemical weapons and facilities, which would be destroyed by mid-2014.

US secretary of state John Kerry said he and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov spoke on the telephone on Saturday about a "strong" UN Security Council resolution on the deal.

"We talked about the cooperation which we both agreed to continue to provide, moving not only towards the adoption of the OPCW rules and regulations, but also a resolution that is firm and strong within the United Nations," Kerry said.