Russia will soon present its plan for placing Syrian chemical weapons under international control to avert a U.S. “punitive” strike against the war-torn country.
“The Russian side is currently busy preparing a clear-cut, workable plan for placing Syrian chemical weapons under international control and are currently in contact with the Syrian side on this,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday, adding that a later-stage agreement may be reached “on complete destruction” of the Syrian nerve gas arsenals and Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, who held talks Mr. Lavrov on Monday, told the Russian Parliament Speaker on Tuesday that Syria had “accepted the Russian initiative”.
Mr. Lavrov said the Russian plan would be open to inputs from international organisations.
“We hope to present this plan in the very near future, and will be prepared to finalise it with the U.N. Secretary-General, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and members of the Security Council,” Mr. Lavrov told a joint press conference with visiting Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel Aziz, who also backed the proposal.
Mr. Lavrov corrected a reporter who called it a Russian initiative.
“[It] is not an entirely Russian proposal. It stems from contacts we have had with our American colleagues, as well as from yesterday’s statement by U.S. State Secretary John Kerry, who said strikes could be avoided if this problem is solved,” the Russian Foreign Minister clarified.
He stressed that the plan did not remove the need for thorough investigation of all reports of chemical weapons use in Syria.
“U.N. experts must return to Syria and exercise their mandate in full,” Mr. Lavrov stressed. “Truth must be established and those responsible must be held to account.”