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NICOSIA, January 03, 6:24 /ITAR-TASS/. Torben Mikkelsen, commander of the Danish-Norwegian operation to transport chemical weapon components from Syria, speaking on Thursday in Limassol -- where the flotilla of two dry cargo ships and two naval escort ships, provided by Denmark and Norway, is staying -- welcomed the joining of Russia's and China's naval ships in the operation.
The operation will be carried out jointly "with our new partners", Mikkelsen said in a statement circulated for journalists by Lars Magne Hovtun, spokesman for the Norwegian Armed Forces.The commander emphasized, "Two plans (for the transportation of chemical weapons from Syria--Note by Itar-Tass) -- a Danish-Norwegian plan and a Russo-Chinese one were synchronized at a meeting in Moscow on December 27. We now have a joint plan for the conduct of the operation in Syria's territorial waters. I am glad that Russia and China have become part of the operation".
Touching upon the forthcoming actions of Danish and Norwegian ships, Mikkelsen said they would set out from Limassol on Friday, January 3, in the direction of Syria and would carry on training so as to be ready at any moment to accomplish the forthcoming mission. "We do not know when exactly the ships will call at the Syrian port of Latakia. As soon as an order comes it, we shall be able to enter there as quickly as possible," Mikkelsen said.
An operation to remov the most hazardous chemical agents from Syria was to be carried out before the end of 2013, according to the plan of a joint mission of the UN and the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons). However, last Saturday, the missions explained that this turned out to be impossible to do owing to difficulties that arose with the delivery of containers with chemical agents to Latakia. The transportation of chemical agents is expected to begin this month.
The Norwegian and Danish dry cargo ships will collect containers with ovet 1,000 tonnes of chemical weapon components from Latakia and bring them to one of Italian ports where they will be reloaded into an American ship fitted out with a hydrolysis installation. The toxic agents are then to be eliminated in the open sea.