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Obama said the idea actually had been broached in his 20-minute meeting with Putin last week on the sidelines of an economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. Obama said he directed Kerry to have more conversations with the Russians and "run this to ground."
On Monday, Kerry said Assad could resolve the crisis by surrendering control of his chemical arsenal to the international community. Russia’s Lavrov responded by promising to push Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control and then dismantle them quickly, to avert U.S. strikes. Syria’s acceptance came less than 24 hours later.
Kerry: Syria should do more than declare weapons
Secretary of State John Kerry says Syria must do more than just declare its chemical weapons stockpiles and sign the international treaty that bans them if it wants a Russian-led effort to avert U.S. military strikes to work.
Just minutes after Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime announced Tuesday that it would take those steps, Kerry said he hoped that it would “go further” in the interests of peace. He said the Syrian government must “live up to what they said just said they would do” and then cooperate with Russia “to work out a formula by which those weapons could be transferred to international control and destroyed.”
He said the regime should also enter a genuine dialogue with the opposition. Kerry’s comments came during an online Google+ hangout.
The Syrian National Coalition dismissed the Assad government’s turnaround as a maneuver to escape punishment for a crime against humanity. The coalition had been hoping for military strikes from abroad to tip the balance in the war of attrition between rebels and Assad’s forces.
In a statement Tuesday, the coalition said Moscow’s proposal "aims to procrastinate and will lead to more death and destruction of the Syrian people."
"Crimes against humanity cannot be dropped by giving political concessions or by handing over the weapons used in these crimes," the group said.
Analysts cautioned that the details of how disarmament will be carried out that would make the plan credible.
"I don’t think this proposal was developed and thought through. I think it came a little bit out of the blue to solve a political crisis," said Ralf Trapp, a disarmament consultant who worked for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons from 1997 to 2006. "Now we’re in a situation where if we have political preparedness to go through with it, we now need to think in practical terms and that’s where, as always, the devil is in the details."
Fabius also warned that finding and destroying "more than 1,000 tons of chemical weapons" would be very difficult and would require international verification amid Syria’s civil war. He reiterated France’s position that Assad must leave power: "We can’t imagine that someone who was responsible for 110,000 dead, it is said, can stay in power forever."
Jean Pascal Zanders, an international disarmament expert, said any agreement depends on trust that the Syrian government is telling the truth about its weapons: "It requires full comprehensive declaration, and any failure on the Syrian government would immediately destroy confidence of the international community and probably split it again."
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