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Syria's War

Breaking news coverage of developments in Syria's War and the broader regional conflict, including allegations of the deadly use of chemical weapons and the international community's response

  • During a Q&A at the Women’s International Forum, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that: “[Assad] has committed many crimes against humanity”, adding, “I am sure that there will be a process of accountability when everything is over.”

    Mr Ban continued: “But at this time, first and foremost, we have to help the fighting stop and dialogue, talking, begin … Let diplomacy have a chance and peace a chance.”

    Mr Ban’s remarks come as the the opposition Syrian National Coalition, the Supreme Military Council, and a French draft resolution on Syria have all called for the referral of the Syria situation to the International Criminal Court by the United Nations Security Council, which would open the door to individual prosecutions for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Ban’s remarks begin at 34:30 mark.

    Source: Storyful

  • In his weekly address, US president Barack Obama recapped on diplomatic developments in relation to Syria, telling the public “We’ve seen indications of progress”, citing Russian willingness to engage and the Syrian government’s decision to join the chemical weapons convention. However, he also insisted that the Syrian pledge to scrap its chemical arsenal must be backed by concrete actions, and said the US would “maintain its military posture”.
  • Syrian National Coalition elects provisional PM

    The opposition Syrian National Coalition elected a moderate Islamist as provisional prime minister Saturday, in a move it hopes will boost the opposition's credibility amid an international dialogue that aims to settle two-and-a-half year conflict.

    The coalition hopes the election of Ahmed Tumeh, 48, will garner respect for the opposition after Russia and the United States agreed earlier Saturday on a framework for removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons arsenal.

    It is hoped that the negotiations on chemical weapons could lead to a wider political solution to a conflict that has killed over 100,000 people. A further six million and counting have been displaced or exiled.

    Tumeh is entrusted with the difficult task of restoring order to areas no longer controlled by Assad, coalition members told Reuters.

    Tumeh, a former political prisoner from the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, got 75 votes out of 97 cast in a coalition ballot in Istanbul, the sources said.

    Read more.
  • Iran's deputy foreign minister says the US no longer has a "pretext" to attack Syria following Sec. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov's deal on Saturday. AFP reports

    "The new situation means in fact that any pretext for the United States and certain countries to engage in military action against Syria has been removed," Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said.

    His was the first reaction from Tehran -- a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad -- to the ambitious deal, struck between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva.

    "We can even talk of a success by the front of the resistance (against Israel)" -- Iran, Syria, Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian group Hamas, Amir-Abdollahian said.

  • Here's NATO Secretary-General on the Anders Fogh Rasmussen on the US-Russia agreement: 

    I welcome the agreement reached today between the US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons.

    This is an important step towards the goal of ensuring the swift, secure and verifiable elimination of Syria's stocks of chemical weapons. Full and unreserved Syrian compliance is now key.

    The international community has a responsibility to make sure that the long-standing norm and practice against the use of chemical weapons is maintained, and violators are held accountable.

    The agreement should give further momentum to a political solution to end the horrendous bloodshed in Syria.

  • The UN has received Syria’s instrument of accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention. From Ban Ki-moon's office: 

    The Secretary-General, in his capacity of the depositary of the 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction, has today received the formal instrument of accession to the Convention by the Syrian Arab Republic.

    Pursuant to the Convention, any State may accede to the Convention at any time. The Convention will enter into force for the Syrian Arab Republic on the 30th day following the date of deposit of this instrument of accession, namely on 14 October 2013.

    The Secretary-General welcomes the accession of the Syrian Arab Republic to this Convention.

  • Here's the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Russia-US agreement:

    The Secretary-General welcomes the news that Russian Federation Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have reached an understanding regarding the safeguarding and destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles. The Secretary-General looks forward to learning more of this framework agreement and pledges the support of the United Nations in its implementation. The Secretary-General expresses his fervent hope that the agreement will, first, prevent any future use of chemical weapons in Syria and, second, help pave the path for a political solution to stop the appalling suffering inflicted on the Syrian people.

  • #SYRIA Lavrov-Kerry framework does not give much of a role to #UN Secretary General. Says he can "submit recommendations"
  • President Obama 'welcomes' the US-Russia deal on Syria's chemical weapons reached Saturday, AFP reports

    In a statement, Obama said that if the regime of President Bashar al-Assad does not live up to the deal Washington reached with Syria's ally Russia, "the United States remains prepared to act."

    "While we have made important progress, much more work remains to be done,"  Obama said.

    "The United States will continue working with Russia, the United Kingdom, France, the United Nations and others to ensure that this process is verifiable, and that there are consequences should the Assad regime not comply with the framework agreed today. And, if diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act," the president added.

  • Al Jazeera diplomatic editor James Bays reports states that UN investigators under professor Ake Sellstrom have completed their report on their investigations into the August 21 chemical attack in Damascus. The report will be sent to Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, either today or tomorrow. Al Jazeera believes it likely that the findings will be made public on Monday but this is not confirmed by the UN.

    The report is only allowed to declare whether chemical weapons were used and not which side used them. However, some diplomats are hoping there will be enough detail about the delivery systems and location of firing and impact that it will be possible to deduce a culprit.
  • What the US-Russia plan for ridding Syria of chemical weapons entails
    The framework for the removal of Syria's chemical weapons does not place blame on either Assad or the Syrian opposition. The deal calls for a U.N. Security Council resolution to back up the measures, with a provision allowing for penalties, such as sanctions, if Syria fails to comply. The U.S and Russia also agreed to strict verification measures of the weapons' destruction.

    The State Department said that U.S. and Russian diplomats will draft a plan to send the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons "in the next few days." Based at The Hague, in The Netherlands, the OPCW is an international body that helps countries that have signed the Chemical Weapons Convention destroy their chemical weapons stockpiles.

    OPCW weapons inspectors participated in the United Nations investigation into the chemical weapons attack in August.

    The right of inspectors to enter Syria must be "immediate and unfettered," the State Department said, adding that the stockpiles should be out of Syria by the middle of 2014. The State Department also said OPCW inspectors must be allowed to complete their review no later than November of this year.

    Attempting to destroy such weapons in the midst of a turbulent and violent civil war is an essentially unprecedented move, experts have said.

    Read more.
  • US and Russia agree to 'framework' to remove Syrian chemical weapons

    After three days of talks, the United States and Russia have reached an agreement on a framework for removing chemical weapons from Syria, top diplomats from both countries said at a press conference Saturday morning in Geneva.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the progress of the removal would need stringent verification, but could represent the first steps to finding a political solution to Syria's two-year-old civil war, which has left more than 100,000 people dead and displaced thousands.

    The framework calls for the complete removal and eventual destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile -- likely by the middle of next year, Kerry said.

    Syria must provide an account of its weapons within a week, according to the agreement.

    "We have agreed on a more defined process which includes the unfettered access of inspectors," Kerry said.

    The agreement does not include any language regarding the use of force if Syria fails to comply with the deal, Lavrov said.

    If Syria fails to comply, the United Nations Security Council would debate punitive measures against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

    Kerry added that the "the President of the United States always retains the right to defend the United States of America and our interests."

    Read more.
  • Commentary: Eliminating Syria'€™s chemical weapons

    by Raymond A. Zilinskas

    On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia is working with the Syrian government to prepare an "effective, clear, concrete" proposal for Damascus to relinquish its chemical arsenal. He continued somewhat wishfully: "We hope to present this plan in the very near future, and will be prepared to finalize it and work it out with the involvement of the U.N. secretary-general, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and members of the Security Council." What might “this plan” look like and is it likely to succeed?

    The plan will undoubtedly be complicated but it should be workable -- if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stands by his declared intention to eliminate these arms. According to the U.N, he has taken the crucial first step of immediately joining the Chemical Weapons Convention, which will allow the OPCW to legally operate in Syria and provide expert assistance to its government. Assad’s intentions can be further assessed by the cooperation he shows to OPCW representatives.

    Drawing on lessons from Iraq’s and Libya’s chemical weapons disarming processes, the main stages of what will be needed in Syria can be predicted. The first step would be for Syria to reveal the details of its chemical weapons program, including facilities where they were developed and produced, the number and types of weapons that have been produced, the depots where these weapons are now stored, and the depots’ security measures. This revelation may only be a beginning: When Libya and Iraq promised to shut down their chemical weapons programs, both began the process by declaring “complete” details of these programs, but, in fact, left out important information about weapons that took years to discover. With information in hand, OPCW experts will be able to resolve how many investigators will be required to examine the depots and their contents and, as important, determine the size of the military force needed to safeguard depots and protect the experts from militants who may act to disrupt any action perceived to help Assad.

    Read more.
  • Harf: While we're pursuing this diplomatically, we're not naive and we're not going to let it go on forever #Syria
  • France's Fabius, Kerry, Britain's Hague to meet in Paris Monday to discuss #Syria -@Reuters
  • Harf: 'This isn't about signing a piece of paper' 'We have to see verifiable actions taken' - Live blog: #Syria
  • The Russian foreign ministry says in a statement that Russia's Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and UN envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi have agreed during a meeting that a political solution to the Syrian crisis is the only realistic way to stop violence


  • Statement: Russian foreign ministry says Lavrov, Kerry, Brahimi agreed political solution only realistic way to stop Syria violence-@Reuters
  • Harf: I'm confident the UN report will reaffirm what we've long said, chemical weapons were used in #Syria -Live blog:
  • Harf: We're not putting a timeline on it, it's a 'balancing act.' Destroying a large stockpile of chemical weapons takes time #Syria
  • France, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan have agreed to strengthen the Syrian opposition in its battle against Assad's regime, the French presidency said.

    After a meeting in Paris, French President Francois Hollande and foreign ministers from the three countries "agreed on the need to strengthen international support for the democratic opposition to allow it to face attacks by the regime," the Elysee said in a statement.

  • Harf: What's happening on the ground in Geneva is we're having in-depth discussions, trying to better understand Russian proposal #Syria
  • Watch live: State Dept. daily press briefing with Marie Harf
  • Chief UN chemical weapons inspector says #Syria report is done, won't discuss its conclusions-@AP
  • US, Russia tie arms talks to broader Syrian peace conference

    Amid ongoing talks about a Russian plan to remove Syria's chemical weapons, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed Friday to meet later this month to try to set a date for a broader peace conference concerning Syria's civil war.

    "We both agreed ... to meet again in New York around the time of the U.N. General Assembly around the 28th in order to see if it is possible then to find a date for that conference," Kerry told reporters Friday at a joint press briefing in Geneva with Lavrov and U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.

    Brahimi said working to remove chemical weapons from Syria would form an important element in efforts to hold new peace talks, following an earlier failed attempt at Geneva last year.

    The special envoy met Kerry and Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, where the U.S. and Russian counterparts are conducting negotiations over a Russian plan to remove Syria's chemical weapons from the country.

    A spokesman for Lavrov said he and Kerry had a comprehensive meeting, where they outlined "the logistics, process and agenda for the days ahead and they agreed on a shared goal of achieving a framework for the path forward."

    The meeting is set to continue Saturday.

    Reporting from Geneva, Al Jazeera's Neave Barker said that a deep commitment coming from both sides at this stage is "very diplomatic talk."

    "They know it is going to be extremely hard to find common ground because there are so many clear-cut differences. Whether or not Russia and U.S. could work through these differences is yet to be seen, but if there is a breakthrough, it is going to have a major impact on the situation in Syria," he said.

    Read more.

  • These videos, uploaded by a local Syrian activist purport to show shelling in the Kafr Batna region of Damascus on September 13. In the footage, three explosions are seen in close proximity to the Baet Sawa mosque in Kafr Batna.

    These videos were collected and authenticated by Storyful. Al Jazeera cannot independently confirm their veracity.

    Source: Kafr Batna Coordination Committee via Storyful

  • UN Chief Ban Ki-moon says he expects the UN investigators' report will confirm chemical weapons were used Syria, according to Reuters.
  • The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Friday that Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, had contacted it with a request for technical assistance.

    Syria became a full member of the global anti-chemical weapons treaty on Thursday, the country's UN envoy said, a move that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had promised as part of a Russian plan to avoid US strikes.


  • The report by United Nations inspectors on the August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria will "probably" be published on Monday, according to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. The AFP reports

    "It will say that there was a chemical massacre... There will certainly be indications" of the origins of the attack, Fabius told French radio Thursday.

    The inspectors left Syria on August 31 after collecting samples as part of their probe into a August 21 chemical weapons attack in a suburb of the Syrian capital.


    "Only the regime had the (chemical weapons) stocks, the (firing) vectors and the interest in doing it, so we can draw a conclusion from that," Fabius said.

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L), and U.N. Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi (C) listen to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) make a statement to the press after a meeting discussing the ongoing problems in Syria at the United Nations offices in Geneva September 13, 2013. (Reuters/Larry Downing)

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed Syria's announcement that it had joined a global anti-chemical weapons treaty, saying it showed Damascus was serious in its intention to resolve the conflict.

    “I believe we should welcome such a decision,” he told a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit on Friday. “(It) is an important step towards the resolution of the Syrian crisis; this confirms the serious intention of our Syrian partners to follow this path.”

    China's Foreign Ministry too has said that it welcomed a decision by Syria to join the global anti-chemical weapons treaty.

    The move would end Syria's status as one of only seven nations outside the 1997 international convention that outlaws stockpiling chemical weapons. Other holdouts include Syria's neighbors Egypt and Israel, as well as North Korea.

    [Reuters and Al Jazeera]

  • In the video above UNHCR, the United Nation’s Refugee Agency, reports on conditions for Syrian refugees living in underground spaces in Lebanon. The footage features interviews with some of the 1,300 refugees living in what is described as a derelict underground garage.

    The UN Refugee Agency provide the following context to the video report stating that: “Lebanon is a small country that has been swamped by hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. There are no refugee camps, so finding a place to stay is difficult. Every available space is precious… even underground garages.”
  • Syria's opposition National Coalition has said it was “deeply skeptical” about the government's decision to join a chemical weapons ban and urged a tough UN resolution to enforce the measure.

    Its Friday statement came a day after Damascus filed documents at the United Nations seeking to join the international convention banning chemical weapons.

    “The Syrian Coalition is deeply sceptical about the Assad regime's signing of the Chemical Weapons Convention on Thursday,” the umbrella group said in a statement.

    The group said any UN Security Council resolution should “enforce compliance through clearly defined timelines and consequences.”

    “It is vital the threat of force stays on the table. For a UNSC resolution to be anything other than a get-out-of-jail-free card for the regime, it must be enforceable under Chapter 7,” allowing military action, the statement said.


  • Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a joint press conference on the Syrian crisis in Geneva, on September 13. United Nations Special Representative on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi also attended the conference at the Palais des Nations.

    Source: UN via Storyful

  • UN confirms Syria’s Assad signed chemical weapons decree

    The United Nations said Thursday that Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has signed a legal document confirming that his government will comply with an international ban on chemical weapons.

    But the announcement came just hours after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had rejected Assad’s earlier pledge to sign the agreement and begin submitting data on his chemical weapons one month later, in keeping with the usual practice under the pact. Kerry said the usual rules cannot apply to the current situation, and he demanded speedier compliance.

    U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s office said that it has received a letter from Syria’s government saying Assad has signed a legislative degree providing for accession to the 1992 Convention on the Prohibition, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.

    The secretary general “welcomes this development” and “hopes that the current talks in Geneva will lead to speedy agreement on a way forward which will be endorsed and assisted by the international community,” Ban’s office said.

    Read more
  • Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari shows a document to reporters at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, September 12, 2013. Syria became a full member of the global anti-chemical weapons treaty on Thursday, Ja'afari said, a move that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had promised as part of a deal to avoid U.S. air strikes. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

  • Here's the full text of US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks on the situation in Syria, delivered on September 12, 2013, in Geneva:

    FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) (In progress) – delegations that accompany us. Of course, we would like you to have unbiased ideas about what we are going to do. But I think that you understand well before we start to tell you what we are going to do, we should get down to a very serious work, the work which is dedicated to a principled agreement to solve once and for – till the end the Syrian problem and the adhesion of Syria to the convention, to the Chemical Weapons Convention, to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. These documents are officially tabled by Damascus to the corresponding agencies, and we will have to have a look at the corresponding documents with the participation of experts that have all the qualifications and professionalism how to work further, not to postpone this process, in strict compliance with the rules that are established by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

    We proceed from the fact that the solution on this problem will make unnecessary any strike on the Syrian Arab Republic, and I am convinced that our American colleagues, as President Obama stated, are firmly convinced that we should follow the peaceful way of resolution of the conflict in Syria. And I should say that we spoke with John by phone several times when we prepared for this meeting. We think that the development of the events gives us an additional opportunity for Geneva 2 in order to move this today’s situation from the stage of military confrontation and to prevent any terroristic threats which is expanding in Syria and in the region, and to convene the conference during which the Syrian parties, in accordance with the Geneva communiques, should agree on the creation of the transition body that will have all the executive functions. And this is our common objectives, and I hope that our today’s and tomorrow work and all other efforts that we are going to continue will help us to move on and to achieve this objective.

    Thank you for your attention.

    SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you very much, Foreign Minister Lavrov. My privilege to be here with our delegation, and I want to thank you and your delegation on behalf of all the people who hope that diplomacy can avoid military action, and we thank you for coming quickly to Geneva in order to have this important conversation that we will engage in.

    Over one year ago, President Obama and President Putin directed high-level experts in our governments, both of our governments, to work together to prepare contingencies involving Syria’s chemical weapons. Foreign Minister Lavrov and I have been in regular contact about this issue since my visit to Moscow earlier this year. And as Foreign Minister Lavrov said to me in a phone conversation after St. Petersburg and the meetings there, President Putin and President Obama thought it would be worthwhile for us to work together to determine if there is life in this concept.

    This challenge obviously took on grave urgency on August 21st when the Syrian regime used chemical weapons in a massive and indiscriminate way against its own citizens. President Obama and dozens of our partners believe that that action is unacceptable, and we have in no uncertain terms made it clear that we cannot allow that to happen again.

    In light of what has happened, the world wonders and watches closely whether or not the Assad regime will live up to its public commitments that it has made to give up their chemical weapons and whether two of the world’s most powerful nations can together take a critical step forward in order to hold the regime to its stated promises.

    I have seen reports that the Syrian regime has suggested that as part of the standard process they ought to have 30 days to submit data on their technical – on their chemical weapons stockpile. We believe there is nothing standard about this process at this moment because of the way the regime has behaved, because the – not only the existence of these weapons, but they have been used. And the words of the Syrian regime, in our judgment, are simply not enough, which is why we’ve come here in order to work with the Russians and work with Sergey Lavrov and his delegation here in order to make certain that this can, in fact, be achieved.

    The United States and Russia have had and continue to have our share of disagreements about the situation in Syria, including a difference as to the judgment we just offered with respect to who may have done that. But what’s important as we come here is that there’s much that we agree on. We agree that on August 21st Syrian men, women, and children died grotesque deaths due to chemical weapons. We agree that no one anywhere at any time should employ chemical weapons. And we agree that our joining together with the international community to eliminate stockpiles of these weapons in Syria would be an historic moment for the multilateral nonproliferation efforts. We agree on those things. We agree that it would help to save lives if we could accomplish this, that it would reduce the threat to the region, that it would uphold the norm that was established here in Geneva almost a century ago, and it would achieve the best of our – all of our aspirations for curbing weapons of mass destruction.

    Foreign Minister Lavrov and I have come to Geneva today to begin to test these propositions, not just on behalf of each of our countries but on behalf of everybody who is interested in a peaceful resolution. So I welcome the distinguished Russian delegation and I am proud that at President Obama’s direction we have a delegation here which I lead of some of our nation’s foremost chemical weapons experts; people who’ve dedicated their lives every day to countering the proliferation of these weapons and to bringing about their eventual elimination from this Earth.

    The Russian delegation has put some ideas forward, and we’re grateful for that. We respect it. And we have prepared our own principles that any plan to accomplish this needs to encompass. Expectations are high. They are high for the United States, perhaps even more so for Russia to deliver on the promise of this moment. This is not a game, and I said that to my friend Sergey when we talked about it initially. It has to be real. It has to be comprehensive. It has to be verifiable. It has to be credible. It has to be timely and implemented in a timely fashion. And finally, there ought to be consequences if it doesn’t take place.

    Diplomacy is and always has been President Obama’s and this Administration’s first resort, and achieving a peaceful resolution is clearly preferable to military action. President Obama has said that again and again. Now, it’s too early to tell whether or not these efforts will succeed, but the technical challenges of trying to do this in the context of a civil war are obviously immense. But despite how difficult this is, with the collaboration of our experts and only with the compliance from the Assad regime, we do believe there is a way to get this done.

    We have come here to define a potential path forward that we can share with our international partners, and together we will test the Assad regime’s commitment to follow through on its promises. We are serious – Mr. Foreign Minister, we are serious, as you are – about engaging in substantive, meaningful negotiations even as our military maintains its current posture to keep up the pressure on the Assad regime. Only the credible threat of force and the intervention of President Putin and Russia based on that has brought the Assad regime to acknowledge for the first time that it even has chemical weapons and an arsenal, and it is now prepared to relinquish it. President Obama has made clear that should diplomacy fail, force might be necessary to deter and degrade Assad’s capacity to deliver these weapons. It won’t get rid of them, but it could change his willingness to use them.

    The best thing to do, we agree, is remove them altogether. Our challenge here in Geneva is to test the viability of placing Assad’s chemical weapons under international control, removing them from Syria, and destroying them forever. But the United States has also made clear that the deaths of more than 100,000 Syrians and the displacement of millions either internally or as refugees remains a stain on the world’s conscience. We all need to keep that in mind and deal with it.

    And that is why Foreign Minister Lavrov and I continue to work with Joint Special Envoy Brahimi and ourselves under the auspices of the Geneva communique. The Foreign Secretary just mentioned this and his hopes. We share those hopes that could foster a political solution to a civil war that undermines the stability of the region, threatens our own national security interests, and compels us to act. That is our hope and that is what we fervently hope can come out of this meeting and these negotiations.

    Thank you very much.

    FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: With your permission, just two words.

    (Via interpreter) I’m not prepared with the (inaudible) political statement to (inaudible) the Syrian problem, because our approaches are clear and they are stated in the statements of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and in his article in The New York Times. And I’m convinced that all of you read this article and I decided not to lay out here our diplomatic position. The diplomacy likes silence. And we’re intent to find compromises, and I am sure that John, in his presentation of the American position, also showed that they would like to find mutual consensus and be – if we follow this way, I hope that we will achieve all the successes.

    SECRETARY KERRY: I lost the last part of the – can you give me the last part of the translation, please? Hello?

    INTERPRETER: Yes, hello.

    FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: It was okay, John. Don’t worry. (Laughter.)

    SECRETARY KERRY: You want me to take your word for it? (Laughter.) It’s a little early for that.


  • A spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has released this statement on the letter received from the government of Syria regarding the anti-chemical weapons convention:
    The Secretary-General has today received a letter from the Government of Syria, informing him that President Al-Assad has signed the legislative decree providing for the accession of Syria to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction of 1992.  In their letter, the Syrian authorities have expressed their commitment to observe the obligations entailed by the Convention even before its entry into force for Syria.
    The Secretary-General welcomes this development, noting that, as depository of the Convention, he has long called for universal accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Given recent events, he hopes that the current talks in Geneva will lead to speedy agreement on a way forward which will be endorsed and assisted by the international community.

  • Syria's UN envoy says "legally speaking" Syria is now a full member of the global anti-chemical weapons treaty, Reuters reports.

    Bashar Jafari told reporters in New York after submitting relevant documents to the United Nations that Syria has "legally" become a part of the Chemical Weapons Convention .

    Syria was one of only seven countries not to have joined the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which commits members to completely destroying their stockpiles. (Since our Twitter followers always ask us who the other 6 are: Egypt, North Korea, South Sudan, Angola, Myanmar and Israel)

    Upon having received the documents earlier, the UN had said "the document from the government of Syria is being translated, [and it] is to be an accession document concerning the Chemical Weapons Convention."
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures next to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) as they speak to the media before their meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria, in Geneva September 12, 2013. Syria applied on Thursday to sign up to the global ban on chemical weapons, a major first step in a Russian-backed plan that would see it abandon its arsenal of poison gas to avert U.S. military strikes. (Reuters/Larry Downing)

  • Carney: It is still our policy that #Syria 's future cannot have Assad, must be decided politically - Live blog:
  • Carney: If we can resolve this without resorting to military force, then credit will be due to the Russians. 'We'll see if it happens'
  • Carney: We believe this needs to be done very quickly and 'words don't count when it comes to the Assad regime.' #Syria
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hold a news conference before meetings to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria, in Geneva September 12, 2013. Syria applied on Thursday to sign up to the global ban on chemical weapons, a major first step in a Russian-backed plan that would see it abandon its arsenal of poison gas to avert U.S. military strikes. (Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

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