13 Sep 2013

Assad confirms international control of Syrian chemical weapons

8:43 am on 13 September 2013

President Bashar al-Assad has appeared on Russian television to confirm Syria's chemical weapons will be placed under international control.

RIA news agency reported Mr Assad also said that Damascus will begin handing over information on its chemical weapons stockpiles a month after it joins a anti-chemical weapons convention.

"When we see the United States really wants stability in our region and stops threatening, striving to attack, and also ceases arms deliveries to terrorists, then we will believe that the necessary processes can be finalised," he was quoted as saying in an interview with Russian state television.

In the interview, which has not yet been broadcast in full, Mr Assad said on Rossiya 24:

"Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia. The US threats did not influence the decision."

He confirmed that Syria was sending relevant documents to the UN as part of the process of signing the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Mr Assad said only Russia could make the agreement happen as "Syria has neither contacts with, nor trust in, America".

Earlier on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov outlined three main phases of the proposal:

Syria joins the Chemical Weapons Convention

Syria reveals where its chemical weapons are stored and gives details of its programme

Experts decide on the specific measures to be taken

The BBC reports Mr Lavrov is to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva to discuss the plan, which was proposed by Moscow on Monday.

During a visit to Kazakhstan, he said: "I am sure that there is a chance for peace in Syria. We cannot let it slip away."

Geneva comment

Before the meeting, Mr Kerry reiterated the US position that military force might be needed against Syria if diplomacy over the chemical weapons stockpile fails.

But Mr Lavrov made it clear that Russia wants the United States to set aside its military threats for now.

The US accuses the Syrian regime of killing 1429 people in a chemical attack on 21 August in Damascus. The government denies that and says rebels were responsible.