Russia urges Syria to hand over control of chemical weapons

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Monday on the Syrian regime to hand over control of its chemical weapons arsenal to international supervision as a way of staving off the threat of military action.

After talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in Moscow, Lavrov called on Syria to “place the chemical weapons under international control and then have them destroyed”.

He said such a plan would help “avoid military strikes” that are being considered by the United States and its allies. Lavrov said he had already made the proposal to Muallem and hoped for a “quick and positive answer” from Syria.

“We do not know if Syria agrees to this, but if placing the chemical weapons under international control helps avoid military strikes, then we will immediately get to work on this,” Lavrov said.

“We have already handed over this proposal to minister Muallem, who is in Moscow, and hope for a quick and positive answer,” Lavrov said in a prepared statement he read out to reporters at a news briefing in Moscow.

As well as handing over the weapons and having them destroyed, Syria should also become a full member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Lavrov said.

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