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Middle east

UN receives Syria chemical weapons treaty papers

© AFP

Video by Luke SHRAGO

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-12

The United Nations said on Thursday that it had received a document from Syria committing the country to the Chemical Weapons Convention, meeting a key provision of a broader Russian proposal to avoid a possible US-led military strike.

The United Nations announced on Thursday that it had received a document from Syria on joining the Chemical Weapons Convention, a global treaty prohibiting their production and use.

Russia had called on Syria to commit to the agreement and place its stockpiles of chemical weapons under international control as part of a proposal to avoid a possible US-led military strike against the country. Syria is one of only seven countries that have not signed the 1997 treaty, which seeks to eliminate all chemical weapons.

“In the past few hours we have received a document from the government of Syria that is being translated, which is to be an accession document concerning the Chemical Weapons Convention,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.

The move comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sit down in Geneva to discuss the details of Russia’s proposal.

The high-stakes meeting could affect whether the United States pursues a threatened military strike against Syria in response to the government’s suspected use of chemical weapons on August 21 outside the capital Damascus, an attack that Washington says killed more than 1,400 people.

US President Barack Obama said in a much-anticipated speech late on Tuesday that he had asked Congress to postpone a vote on authorising military force against Syria while his administration explores the proposal.

Russia has warned that its plan to find a diplomatic solution will only succeed, however, if the US abandons the idea of taking military action.

Syria not bowing to threat of US strike

Earlier in the day, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made it clear that his country’s decision to comply with Russia’s proposal was not because of the threat of a US military strike.

'This is not a unilateral process,' Assad says

“Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia. The US threats did not influence the decision,” Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Assad as telling the country’s state-run Rossiya-24 TV channel.

Assad also told Rossiya-24 that Syria would submit documents to the United Nations on the Chemical Weapons Convention, state-run Russian news agency RIA reported on Thursday.

Russia has been one of Syria’s most powerful allies over the course of its two-and-a-half-year crisis, which has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people. It has blocked three UN resolutions that would have imposed sanctions on Assad’s government and has denied allegations Syria’s government has been responsible for the use of chemical weapons.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-09-12

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