News / Middle East

Kerry, Lavrov Outline Steps Syria Must Take

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) shake hands after making statements following meetings regarding Syria, at a news conference in Geneva, Sept.14, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) shake hands after making statements following meetings regarding Syria, at a news conference in Geneva, Sept.14, 2013.
VOA News
The United States and Russia have agreed on a framework for ending Syria's chemical weapons program that includes a requirement for Syria to submit a comprehensive list of such weapons in one week.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry outlined the plan during a joint news conference in Geneva Saturday, with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.  

"We have reached a shared assessment of the amount and type of chemical weapons possessed by the Assad regime and we are committed to the rapid assumption of control by the international community of those weapons," he said.

Kerry said they agreed that Syria must provide the immediate right to inspect all such weapons sites, which he says will lead to the destruction of the weapons outside of Syria.

The plan calls for the elimination or removal of all chemical weapons material and equipment by mid-2014.

If the plan is successful, Kerry said it could have far-reaching consequences.

"If we can join together and make this framework a success, and eliminate Syria's chemical weapons, we would not only save lives but we would reduce the threat to the region and reinforce an international standard, an international norm," he said.

Kerry said if Syria does not comply with the plan, they could request a U.N. Security Council "Chapter 7" resolution, which authorizes punitive action.

Lavrov said the deal does not include anything about potential use of force.

There was no immediate reaction from Syria.

The agreement on the proposal followed three days of talks between the top diplomats and U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.

Key points of US-Russian proposal for eliminating Syria's chemical weapons

  • A full declaration from Syria of chemical weapons storage and production sites in one week
  • Initial on-site inspections of sites by November
  • Destruction of chemical mixing, production and filling equipment by November
  • Elimination or removal of chemical weapons material and equipment by mid-2014
  • Syrian violations could prompt U.N. Security Council action
During the talks, U.S. and Russian officials agreed that Syria currently holds about 1,000 metric tons of chemical agents and precursors including sulfur mustard and sarin gas.

U.S. officials believe there are about 45 sites where those munitions and related equipment is stored but say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime may have moved some of those supplies.

Syrian compliance with the agreement could avert a U.S. military strike in retaliation for the Syrian government's alleged poison gas attack on civilians last month near Damascus.

U.S. President Barack Obama says the international community expects the Syrian government to "live up to its commitments." In a Saturday statement, the president said "if diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act."

The United States says it has confirmed that more than 1,400 people died in the attack, and that there is no doubt the Syrian military was responsible. The Assad government contends rebels carried out the gas attack.  

Reactions

France and Britain welcomed the deal.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called it a "significant step forward."  France and the United States have been the main advocates of military strikes against Syria for the alleged chemical weapons attack.

In a Saturday statement, Fabius said he, Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague would discuss details of the plan during talks in Paris on Monday.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also welcomed the plan and said he hoped it would lead to efforts to end the "appalling suffering inflicted on the Syrian people."

Germany offered a more cautious response. The French News Agency, AFP, says Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said if "words are followed by actions," then chances for a political solution in Syria will increase.  

However, General Selim Idriss of the opposition Free Syrian Army said the group rejects the plan.

" We don't recognize the Russian initiative and we think the Russians and the Syrian regime are playing games to waste time and to win time for the criminal regime in Damascus," he said.

He said the group would continue its fight against Mr. Assad's government.

Syria said Thursday it will join an international ban on chemical weapons, but says it will take a month to list all of its chemical weapons stockpile. Until this week, Syria had repeatedly denied possessing any chemical weapons.

President Assad has said he will only transfer his chemical weapons arsenal to international control if the U.S. drops its threat of military action against him.

Kerry will travel to Israel Sunday for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then to Paris for talks Monday with the foreign ministers of France, Britain and Saudi Arabia.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 14, 2013 10:30 AM
"We have reached a shared assessment of the amount and type of chemical weapons possessed by the Assad regime and we are committed to the rapid assumption of control by the international community of those weapons", Kerry said. Who is listening to this statement if Lavrov says the deal does not include anything about potential use of force? How realistic is one week in the face of Assad saying 'he will only transfer his chemical weapons arsenal to international control if the U.S. drops its threat of military action against him'? As it is, the world has been led to the middle of nowhere by the US timid administration, and the Russians and Assad are making nonsense of western diplomacy and intimidation.

In spite of all this, what is Assad's penalty for using poison gas on his people? No consideration is given to a world where the Syrian precedence is definitely going to reignite nuclear, chemical and biological arms race. When we listen to the foreign minister of Iran, what he says about his country's right to nuclear program, and what may be going on in the administrations of other regional neighbors threatened by Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons, then we will know who has made a grave mistake in Syria. Surely not Russia who wants such an equalization program to counter the US dominance of allies in world affairs.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid