US, Russia differ on military force as Syria talks open

September 12, 2013 | By | Reply More

Sep 12, – US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov opened talks on Thursday on disarming Syria’s chemical weapons programmes, but differences emerged at the outset of the expected two-day negotiations.

hromedia US, Russia differ on military force on Syria eu news2Kerry reiterated the US position that military force might be needed against Syria if diplomacy over President Bashar Al Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile fails.

“President (Barack) Obama has made clear that should diplomacy fail force might be necessary to deter and degrade Assad’s capacity to deliver these weapons,” Kerry said, as Lavrov looked on.

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

“We proceed from the fact that the solution of this problem will make unnecessary any strike on the Syrian Arab Republic,” he said. “I am convinced that our American colleagues, as President Obama stated, are firmly convinced that we should follow peaceful way of resolution of conflict in Syria.”

As the US Congress debated military strikes as a response to an August 21 chemical attack on a suburb of Damascus, Russia proposed that Syria instead agree to give up its chemical arms.

Kerry made clear that Washington, while exploring the offer, remains skeptical. And he pushed back on a reported offer from the Syrian government, as part of a move to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, to supply data on its chemical arsenal within 30 days, the standard practice.

“We believe there is nothing standard about this process at this moment because of the way the regime has behaved, not only the existence of these weapons but they have been used,” Kerry said.

“Expectations are high. They are high for the United States, perhaps even more so for Russia, to deliver on the promise of this moment,” Kerry said. “This is not a game and I said that to my friend Sergei 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.”

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will visit China to discuss Syria on Sunday, his ministry said, amid ongoing diplomatic efforts to end the crisis in the war-torn country.

On his way back, Fabius will hold talks on Tuesday with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, said Philippe Lalliot, a foreign ministry spokesman.

Continuing the diplomatic drive to end the civil war in Syria that has claimed more than 110,000 lives, French President Francois Hollande will on Friday meet the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, his office said.

France has been one of the closest allies of the United States in urging military action.

Press coordinator for HRO media – Norberto Lluch, contributed to this report.

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Category: European Crises

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