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France undermines Russia's Syrian initiative

September 13, 2013, 11:09 UTC+3
Syrian official: “I think Minister Fabius is trying to deprive of the positive impulse the Russian initiative, as well as Syria’s positive reaction to it"
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 French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Photo EPA/YOAN VALAT

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Photo EPA/YOAN VALAT

UNITED NATIONS, September 13 (Itar-Tass) - French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is trying to take the positive impulse away from the Russian initiative on the transfer of Syrian chemical weapons under international supervision, supported by Damascus, Syrian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari believes.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, he criticized the French minister for trying to “pre-empt” the much anticipated report of the UN inspectors on the chemical weapons and to hold Damascus responsible for the alleged attack on August 21.

“I think Minister Fabius is trying to deprive of the positive impulse the Russian initiative, as well as Syria’s positive reaction to it. We are dealing with the minister of one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, who runs forward and anticipates the conclusions of which will be contained in the report of the inspectors,” Bashar Jaafari said.

The French foreign minister said on Thursday that the report of the UN inspectors, expected early next week, would confirm the guilt of the Syrian authorities in staging a chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus. On the same day, a diplomat told Itar-Tass that the experts had really arrived at the conclusion that the nerve gas sarin was used in Syria, however, did not make any conclusions about who used.

However, for the Western countries the confirmation of the mere fact of a chemical attack is enough - Fabius says only the Syrian authorities have chemical weapons stockpiles. According to some observers, hence their desire to prevent in every possible way the inspectors’ trip to the suburb of Aleppo Khan al-Asal, where, as Russian experts have established, the opposition used sarin on March 19.

“We have nothing to hide. On the contrary, we call on the inspectors to present a complete report on all the incidents that are being investigated,” the Syrian ambassador to the UN said in this regard. “But we do not want to see any intermediate, politicised reports,” he warned.

Western countries in the Un Security Council took without enthusiasm Syria’s Thursday announcement that it wants to join the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. “One gets the impression that Syria and Russia are struggling to shift the focus from the discussion (of the alleged chemical weapons use) in the UN Security Council,” a Western country diplomat told Itar-Tass.

Earlier this week Russia urged Syria to place chemical weapons under international control. “We do not know whether Syria will agree to this, but if such international control over chemical weapons in that country helps avoid the strikes, we will start working with Damascus immediately,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday, September 9. Foreign officials mostly supported this idea

Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad assured that “Syria was ready to join the Chemical Weapons Convention at once in compliance with requests of friends in Russia. This is purely a technical issue.” On Thursday Syrian President Bashar Assad agreed to transfer the country’s chemical weapons under international control “in response to Russia’s initiative and not over the fear of U.S. aggressive threats.”

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