Arab League welcomes US-Russia deal on Syria weapons

15th September 2013, Comments 0 comments

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi on Sunday welcomed a US-Russian deal to remove Syria's chemical weapons, calling it "a step closer to a political solution" to the conflict.

In a statement, Arabi said the deal would "contribute to providing better conditions for the Geneva II conference and help achieve a political solution to the Syrian crisis".

On Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced an agreement to eliminate Syria's chemical arms stockpile, after three days of talks in Geneva.

The deal has given fresh hope to the long-delayed Geneva II peace conference for Syria.

The ambitious plan to dismantle and destroy Syria's chemical arms stockpile -- one of the largest in the world -- gives Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a week to hand over details of his regime's arsenal of the internationally banned arms in order to avert unspecified sanctions and the threat of US-led military strikes.

It also specifies there must be immediate access for arms control experts and that inspections of what the US says is some 45 sites linked to the Syrian chemical weapons programme must be completed by November.

The Arab League, which suspended Syria and replaced it with the main opposition coalition, had slammed the Syrian regime's alleged chemical attack as having crossed a "global red line".

Arabi called on "all parties of influence to take responsibility through the UN Security Council to ensure a comprehensive ceasefire" and allow access to humanitarian and medical aid, he said.

The conflict in Syria has killed more than 110,000 people since it began in March 2011 with peaceful protests that led to an armed uprising.

© 2013 AFP

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