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Lavrov, Kerry to continue talks on Syrian chemical weapons

September 13, 2013, 7:33 UTC+3

Moscow had handed over its Syria plan to Washington

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GENEVA, September 13 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will continue their talks in Geneva on Friday, September 13, in an attempt to decide how to proceed further in putting Syria’s chemical weapons stock under international control.

Both ministers arrived in Geneva on Thursday, September 12, and started their consultations at a working dinner, which was preceded by brief statements for the press, in which they expressed cautious optimism and hope that their disagreements might be resolved through talks.

“We proceed from the fact that the solution on this problem will make unnecessary any strike on the Syrian Arab Republic, and I am convinced that our American colleagues, as President Obama stated, are firmly convinced that we should follow the peaceful way of resolution of the conflict in Syria,” Lavrov said.

“The United States and Russia have had and continue to have our share of disagreements about the situation in Syria…” but “we agree that no one anywhere at any time should employ chemical weapons. And we agree that our joining together with the international community to eliminate stockpiles of these weapons in Syria would be an historic moment for the multilateral nonproliferation efforts,” Kerry said.

A source in the Russian delegation said that Moscow had handed over its Syria plan to Washington. If it is approved, the following steps will have to be taken: Syria joins the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and declares the sites where its chemical weapons are stored and made. It then allows inspectors to visit these places and decides together with them who will destroy these weapons and how.

Experts say that the chemical weapons may be taken out of Syria, for example, to Russia which has special disposal plants.

Both ministers are being accompanied by big delegations of experts. The Russian delegation includes officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the General Staff. The American delegation includes officials from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Office of the National Security Adviser, and the Department of Defence.

Also participating in the consultations are Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.

On Friday, September 13, Lavrov is scheduled to meet with the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Lakhdar Brahimi, to discuss the possibility of convening an international conference on Syria known as Geneva II.

Brahimi discussed this issue on Thursday, September 12, with Kerry and expressed hope that “that once they have done what they have to do with the Russians on this chemical issue, we will start talking again about Geneva.”

Lavrov also believes that “the development of the events gives us an additional opportunity for Geneva 2 in order to move this today’s situation from the stage of military confrontation and to prevent any terroristic threats which is expanding in Syria and in the region, and to convene the conference during which the Syrian parties, in accordance with the Geneva communiques, should agree on the creation of the transition body that will have all the executive functions. And this is our common objectives, and I hope that our today’s and tomorrow work and all other efforts that we are going to continue will help us to move on and to achieve this objective.”

The talks are taking place at Geneva’s Intercontinental Hotel near the airport on the way to the central part of the city.

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