Kerry Arrives In Geneva To Test Russia On Syria Weapons
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Geneva to test the seriousness of a Russian proposal to secure Syria’s chemical weapons.
Kerry and a team of U.S. experts will have at least two days of meetings with their Russian counterparts on Thursday and Friday. They hope to emerge with an outline of how some 1,000 tons of chemical weapons stocks and precursor materials as well as potential delivery systems can be safely inventoried and isolated under international control in an active war zone and then destroyed.
Officials with Kerry said they would be looking for a rapid agreement on principles for the process with Russians, including a demand for a speedy Syrian accounting of their stockpiles.
The hastily arranged trip comes as the White House is pinning success or failure of a new diplomatic track on Russia’s willingness to take a tough line with its ally Syria. The U.S. wants an agreement to be bolstered by a U.N. resolution to hold Syria accountable for using chemical weapons.
And it comes as The Washington Post reports that the CIA has begun delivering weapons to Syrian rebels, as promised by the Obama administration in June.
Syrian rebels blast Russian offer on chemical arms
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian rebels have blasted the Russian proposal on securing their country’s chemical weapons, saying that Bashar Assad’s government should instead be made to face an international court for last month’s attack near Damascus.
The top rebel commander, Gen. Salim Idris, says regime officials should be referred to the International Criminal Court for the alleged Aug. 21 chemical attack near the Syrian capital that killed hundreds.
Idris, speaking for the Free Syrian Army, says “chemical weapons were the tool of the crime” in the attack in Ghouta suburb.
He says the FSA “categorically rejects the Russian initiative.”
Idris’ statement was broadcast on Thursday on pan-Arab satellite channels, hours ahead of talks in Geneva between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the Russian proposal.