Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in Moscow welcomed on Monday a Russian call for Damascus to place its chemical weapons under international control.
“I note that Syria welcomes the Russian initiative based on the Syrian leadership’s concern about the lives of our nationals and the security of our country,” Muallem said in comments carried by Russian state news agency ITAR-Tass.
Free Syrian Army spokesman Louay al-Mekdad said the rebel army does not trust the Syrian pledge to give up chemical weapons.
Lavrov had said such a plan would help “avoid military strikes” that are being considered by the United States and its allies.
British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the Russian proposal, saying if Syria accepts the proposal, that should be encouraged.
“If that were to be the case it would be hugely welcome,” Cameron told lawmakers. “If Syria were to but its chemical weapons beyond use, under international supervision, clearly that would be a big step forward and should be encouraged.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry earlier said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avoid a U.S. military strike by surrendering all his chemical weapons within a week.
When asked by a reporter in London whether there was anything Assad’s government could do or offer to stop a military strike, Kerry answered:
“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 (of it), but he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done.”
The State Department later said Kerry had been making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility of Assad turning over chemical weapons, which Assad denies his forces used in the Aug. 21 poison gas attack, according to Reuters.
In an interview with U.S. television network CBS, Assad said the United States would be going against its own interests if it got involved in Syria, warning of repercussions.
U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking to convince Democrats and Republicans in Congress on Monday after returning from summer recess, to give him a green light to launch military strikes on Syria.
President Obama accords six interviews to network and cable news shows, while top officials from his administration fan out in Congress to persuade lawmakers ahead of the votes, with the help of graphic videos of the victims of the August 21 attack, Reuters reported.
(With Reuters and AFP)
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