Syria completes handover of chemical weapons inventory on time

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Syria has completed the handover of an inventory of its chemical stockpile by a Saturday deadline laid out in a U.S.-Russian disarmament plan, the world's chemical weapons watchdog said.

The "OPCW has confirmed that it has received the expected disclosure from the Syrian government regarding its chemical weapons program," the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in an email received by Agence France-Presse.

"The Technical Secretariat is currently reviewing the information received."

The watchdog, which will oversee the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile, said it expects to receive more information from the Syrian government in the coming days.

Syria gave the first details of its chemical arsenal on Friday, the agency said.

“The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has received an initial disclosure from the Syrian government of its chemical weapons program,” an OPCW statement said.

A spokesman for the U.N.-backed agency said: “We have received part of the verification and we expect more.”

The organization has postponed a meeting of its Executive Council set for Sunday that had been due to discuss how to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons program, AFP reported.

Damascus had until Saturday to supply details of its arsenal, in line with a U.S.-Russian plan that helped prevent military action on regime targets following a chemical attack last month that killed hundreds of people.

China on Friday has called for the quick implementation of the plan, voicing hope for a political solution to the crisis.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi, said that China was “firmly opposed to the use of chemical weapons by any country or individual,” AFP quoted him as saying.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had agreed on Friday to continue cooperating, “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 told reporters in Washington.

One Western diplomat warned on Friday that a failure by Assad to account for all the suspected stockpile would cause world powers to seek immediate action at the U.N. Security Council to force Damascus to comply.

If there were gaps in the documentation, the diplomat said, “this matter is going to go straight to the Security Council.”

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