WASHINGTON: ARAB NEWS
Published — Sunday 8 September 2013
Last update 10 September 2013 6:01 pm
The United States voiced skepticism Monday over a proposal for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons to international control to avoid a US military strike. The State Department said it would take a “hard look” at the proposal but doubted that Syria would carry out such a plan.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the US would consider the proposal floated by the foreign ministers of Russia and Syria with “serious skepticism” because it might be a stalling tactic. She said Syria had consistently refused to destroy its chemical weapons in the past.
The proposal came after Secretary of State John Kerry said in London that Syrian President Bashar Assad could end the crisis by turning over all his chemical weapons. Harf said Kerry wasn’t putting forth a formal proposal.
Kerry told reporters in London Assad could resolve the crisis surrounding the alleged use of chemical weapons by his forces by surrendering control of “every single bit” of his arsenal to the international community by the end of the week.
Hours later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov promised to push its ally Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control and then dismantle them quickly to avert US strikes, and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem quickly embraced the proposal. That was followed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who also urged Syria to agree.
At the White House, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said the US is “skeptical of any statements by the Syrian government given that they haven’t even declared their chemical weapons and used them in violation of international law.”