US President Barack Obama has welcomed a crucial deal with Russia to bring Syria's chemical weapons under international control, but warned there would be "consequences" if the Assad regime does not comply with the agreement in a transparent, expeditious and verifiable manner.
After US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov hammered out the agreement on the Syrian chemical stockpile during talks in Geneva, Obama said the international community expects Syria to live up to its public commitments. "While we have made important progress, much more work remains to be done. The US will continue working with Russia, the UK, France, the UN and others to ensure that this process is verifiable, and that there are consequences should the Assad regime not comply with the framework agreed today," Obama said in a statement yesterday. "And, if diplomacy fails, the US remains prepared to act," he said.
He reiterated that he had decided to take military action against the embattled regime after it allegedly used chemical weapons that left over 1,400 people dead.
After Russia proposed the initiative to bring the chemical weapons under international watch, Obama put on hold his planned military intervention. "In part because of the credible threat of US military force, we now have the opportunity to achieve our objectives through diplomacy," Obama said.
Kerry and Lavrov reached an agreement on a framework for Syria to destroy its chemical weapons by mid-2014. "This framework provides the opportunity for the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons in a transparent, expeditious, and verifiable manner, which could end the threat these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people but to the region and the world," Obama said.
Obama said the progress made by Russia and US represents an important, concrete step toward the goal of moving Syria's chemical weapons under international control so that they may ultimately be destroyed.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday welcomed the agreement reached between the United States and Russia to bring the Syrian chemical weapons under international control.
At the UN headquarters in New York, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, welcomed the news that Lavrov and Kerry have reached an understanding regarding the safeguarding and destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles. "The Secretary-General looks forward to learning more of this framework agreement and pledges the support of the United Nations in its implementation," a UN statement said.
"Secretary-General expresses his fervent hope that the agreement will, first, prevent any future use of chemical weapons in Syria and, second, help pave the path for a political solution to stop the appalling suffering inflicted on the Syrian people," the statement said.