Putin commends Syria action on chemical weapons ban

Putin commends Syria action on chemical weapons ban

Russian president says Damascus’s formal request to sign treaty proves its good faith

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Syria’s move to join an international convention banning chemical weapons has proven its good faith and reaffirmed a strong warning to the US not to use force.

Speaking at a summit of an international security grouping dominated by Russia and China, Putin said the move showed that Syria has “serious intentions to follow this path.”

“I would like to voice hope that this will mark a serious step toward the settlement of the Syrian crisis,” Putin said.

Syria made a formal bid Thursday to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. The UN welcomed the move, but said that it could take 30 days for Syria to become a member.

Russia proposed Monday that Syria avoid a US military strike by surrendering control over its chemical weapons to the international community for eventual dismantling. Damascus quickly jumped at the offer. Top US and Russian diplomats are holding talks in Geneva to discuss the specifics.

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday kept alive the threat of US military action, saying after the first round of talks that the turnover of weapons must be complete, verifiable and timely — “and finally, there ought to consequences if it doesn’t take place.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who took part in the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization alongside Putin, said Beijing backs the Russian initiative and is ready to help efforts aimed at a political settlement of the crisis in the UN Security Council.

Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani also backed the Russian plan and said Tehran could help foster a dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition.

Putin insisted diplomatic efforts have “helped reduce the threat of a military action.” He emphasized that “any military intervention without the UN Security Council would be inadmissible.”

Russia, backed by China, has repeatedly used veto power at the Security Council to block Western resolutions calling for sanctions against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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