Russia-U.S. talks on Syria chemical deal ‘not going smoothly’

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Talks between Russia and the United States on the conflict in Syria are not going very smoothly, a secior Russian diplomat said on Tuesday

“Unfortunately it’s necessary to note that in contacts with the Americans, things are not going so smoothly...they are not quite going in the direction they should,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in parliament.

Ryabkov also expressed concern that a chemical weapons deal may have only delayed U.S. military action.

The deal stipulates that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hand over his chemical weapons arsenal to international control by the middle of next year.

He said U.S. officials “always mention that plans to punish Damascus remain in force. We draw certain conclusions from that and assume that the threat of aggression in violation of international law is so far only delayed, not dismissed fully.”

On the topic of a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria, Ryabkov said it could mention Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.

Chapter VII allows force or tough sanctions, but only as a measure that could be invoked if an accord on chemical weapons is violated.

“Chapter VII can be mentioned only as an element of the measures against violators... if there is a refusal to cooperate, carry out obligations or if someone, it does not matter who, uses chemical weapons.”

The invocation of Chapter VII in a U.N. resolution has been a point of controversy between the United States and Russia ever since the two Cold War foes forged the landmark agreement in Geneva this month to rid Syria of its chemical weapons, Agence France-Presse reports.

Ryabkov expressed satisfaction that U.N. chemical weapons experts would be returning to Damascus “tomorrow, September 25” to investigate a chemical weapons attack outside Damascus in August, the Interfax news agency said, quoting comments in parliament.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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