US must call off war plans on Syria: Putin

US must call off war plans on Syria: Putin
Wed Sep 11, 2013 08:02:43

Russian President Vladimir Putin says a new proposal to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control can only work if US puts off its plans to attack the Arab country.

The plan "can work only in the event that we hear that the American side and those who support the US, in this sense, reject the use of force," Putin said on Tuesday, a day after Moscow proposed the initiative meant to diffuse Washington’s war rhetoric against Damascus.

"It's hard to make any country -- Syria or another country, any other state in the world -- disarm on a unilateral basis if an attack is being prepared against it," he added, speaking from his country residence outside Moscow.

"It is well known that Syria has a certain arsenal of chemical weapons and Syrians have always considered it to be an alternative to Israeli nuclear weapons,” the Russian president noted.

"This question has already been discussed many times by experts and politicians -- the question of putting Syrian chemical weapons under international control. We discussed this issue with the US president at the sidelines of the G20 summit. We agreed that we actualize this work, intensify it and give the go-ahead for the US secretary of state and the Russian foreign minister to make contact and to try to push forward the solution of this question," Putin stated.

"We hope that our Syrian partners, friends will make the responsible decision. Not only agree to place their chemical weapons under control but agree to their subsequent destruction and joining the international convention on banning chemical weapons. This all together I think will be a very good step towards a peaceful solution of the Syrian crisis," he concluded.

Later in the day, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Damascus is ready to implement the Russian proposal.

"We want to join the convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons. We are ready to observe our obligations in accordance with that convention, including providing all information about these weapons," Muallem said.

"We are ready to declare the location of the chemical weapons, stop production of the chemical weapons, and show these (production) facilities to representatives of Russia and other United Nations member states," he said.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama asked Congress to delay a vote on authorizing military action against Syria in order to give the Russian proposal a chance to play out.

The call for military action against Syria intensified after foreign-backed opposition forces accused the government of President Bashar al-Assad of launching a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21.

Damascus has vehemently denied the accusations, saying the attack was carried out by the militants themselves as a false-flag operation.

On August 31, Obama said he has decided that Washington must take military action against the Syrian government, which would mean a unilateral military strike without a UN mandate.


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