Syria submits chemical details to watchdog

Updated 28 December 2013
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Syria submits chemical details to watchdog

LONDON: Syria has begun supplying details of its chemical arsenal, the world’s chemical weapons watchdog said.
Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil, meanwhile, said Damascus wanted a cease-fire in the 30-month war. He said the war is now in stalemate.
Hours before a deadline for President Bashar Assad’s regime to provide details on its arsenal, the Hague-based group tasked with dismantling the arms said it has received an initial report.
“The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has received an initial disclosure from the Syrian government of its chemical weapons program,” an OPCW statement said.
Its Technical Secretariat is now examining the details, it said.
A UN diplomat said the OPCW had received the Syrian declaration on Thursday. “It is quite lengthy,” he said.
One Western diplomat warned that a failure by Assad to account for all the suspected stockpile would cause world powers to seek immediate action at the UN Security Council to force Damascus to comply.
If there were gaps in the documentation, the diplomat said, “this matter is going to go straight to the Security Council.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry said he and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov spoke on the telephone about a “strong” UN Security Council resolution on ridding Syria of chemical weapons.
Syria’s deputy prime minister, meanwhile, said Damascus would call for a cease-fire if long-delayed peace talks in Geneva take place.
“Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side,” Jamil told Britain’s Guardian newspaper.
Asked what his government would propose at the stalled Geneva II summit, he replied: “An end to external intervention, a cease-fire and the launching of a peaceful political process.”


Egyptian president El-Sisi offers sympathy after heavy rains

Updated 30 min 31 sec ago
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Egyptian president El-Sisi offers sympathy after heavy rains

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has expressed sympathy with people affected by the rare heavy rains over the past two days.
The downpour had caused flash floods on the streets, leaving parts of the capital, Cairo, and other parts of Egypt impassable.
Footage on social media showed floods, leaky ceilings and parked cars completely submerged in water.
On Thursday, El-Sisi sought to reassure people that measures would be taken to prevent this from recurring.
He said on his Twitter account: “I understand completely the suffering of some Egyptians due to the sudden and unusual rainfall.”
El-Sisi added that he confirms the state and Egyptian authorities will “intensify their efforts to prevent such incidents from recurring.”
Egypt’s Meteorological Authority Ahmed Abdel-Al says the weather is expected to improve by Friday.