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GENEVA, September 12 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov left for Geneva on Thursday to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
The talks will focus on Russia’s initiative to place chemical weapons in Syria under control.
The Russian plan for putting Syria’s chemical weapons under international control has been handed over to the United States.
“We have submitted our plan for establishing international control over Syria’s chemical weapons to the U.S. and we hope to discuss it in Geneva,” a source in the Russian delegation to talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva told ITAR-TASS on Wednesday, September 11.
U.S. Department of State officials said that the talks would aim to try to agree a draft U.N. Security Council resolution, which Washington insists should guide the transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.
An official at the Russian Permanent Mission to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva told ITAR-TASS that the meeting between Lavrov and Kerry could take several days.
“The meeting should begin on Thursday and end on Friday but it may as well flow into Saturday,” the official said, adding that there is no indication that a third party may attend the talks. “It will be a bilateral meeting. There are no plans to draw in the United Nations.”
Reports say that the ministers will meet at one of the high-ranking Geneva hotels.
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.
“We urged the Syrian leadership not only to come to agreement on the placement of chemical weapons storage sites under international control but also on their subsequent disposal and on [Syria’s] full accession to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,” Lavrov said. “We have already passed this proposal to Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Walid Muallem and expect a quick, and I hope positive,” reply,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime could avoid a military operation against his country by surrendering its chemical weapons.
“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,” Kerry said. Other foreign officials mostly supported the idea of surrendering chemical weapons.
Lavrov said Moscow would oppose the use of force against Syria in circumvention of the U.N. Security Council.
During a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on September 5, Lavrov said the U.N. experts’ findings regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria must be submitted to the U.N. Security Council for consideration and further decision.
Lavrov and Kerry “discussed in detail the situation surrounding Syria.” The Russian minister stressed that “we reject the use of force bypassing this [U.N. Security Council] mechanism.”
They “agreed to use existing channels for exchanging information at the level of experts,” the Foreign Ministry said.