Berlin, Paris welcome Syria chemical proposal

Berlin, Paris welcome Syria chemical proposal
Tue Sep 10, 2013 09:48:01

France and Germany have expressed hope that a Russian proposal over Syria handover of its chemical weapons arsenal to the United Nations would come to reality soon.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that she hoped "action" would follow Russia's proposal to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control, and that it was not just a way to buy time.

"Today there was an interesting proposal from Russia, which called on Syria for the first time to place its chemical weapons under international control," said Merkel on German public television during an electoral event in Moenchengladbach on Monday, adding that she hoped "action would follow" and it was not "just to buy time".

"The proposal of the Russian foreign minister... is worthy of close scrutiny," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement. "It would be acceptable under at least three conditions."

Fabius said that syria would have to place its chemical arsenal under international control quickly and allow it to be destroyed, and that the operation should take place quickly after a Security Council resolution.

Also, those responsible for carrying out the attack would have to be brought before the International Criminal Court to face prosecution for their crimes, he added.

Fabius said that "rapid, serious and verifiable" commitments were needed from the Syrian government if France was to accept the Russian handover proposal - which the United States has so far greeted with skepticism.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, seizing on a remark by his US counterpart, suggested the handover as an alternative to strike on Syria over an alleged August 21 chemical weapons attack.

The call for military action against Syria intensified after foreign-backed opposition forces accused the Syrian government of launching a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21. Syria, however, ruled out any involvement in the alleged chemical attack.


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