Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said that Syria’s move to join an international convention banning chemical weapons has proven its good faith.
Speaking at a summit of an international security grouping, Mr. Putin said the move showed that Syria has “serious intentions to embark on that path.”
“I would like to voice hope that this will mark a serious step toward the settlement of the Syrian crisis,” Mr. Putin said.
Syria made a formal bid on Thursday to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. The UN welcomed the move, but said that it could take 30 days for Syria to become a member.
Russia proposed on Monday that Syria surrenders control over its chemical weapons to the international community for its eventual dismantling to avoid a US military strike, and Damascus quickly jumped at the offer.
US, Russia still apart
US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov were to discuss a time line for eventually destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile in a second day of talks in Geneva on Friday, diplomats said.
The men need to work out differences between the US and Russia on how to rid Syria of its chemical weapons after failing to agree on several points in a first day of talks, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The talks could run into the weekend, they added.
As Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lavrov started their meetings on Thursday evening, the United Nations confirmed in New York that Syria had applied to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, the treaty that obliges its members to give up such weapons.
The US wants the chemical disarmament plan to be accompanied by a threat of punitive measures, which would be contained in a UN Security Council resolution, in case Mr. al-Assad does not follow through on his promises, the diplomats said.
However, Russia opposes such a resolution, they said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Russian state television on Thursday that he would not disarm unless the United States stopped threatening to attack his country.
Mr. Kerry stressed the need to maintain a military option in a meeting with the Syria envoy of the UN and Arab League, Lakhdar Brahimi, in Geneva on Thursday, diplomatic sources said.