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Plan to destroy Syrian chemical weapons awaits Albanian decision

Friday, 15 November 2013 - 6:05pm IST | Agency: Reuters

Discussions to work out a detailed plan to destroy Syria's chemical weapons were on hold Friday as Albania considered a politically loaded U.S. request to host a facility that will process thousands of tonnes of toxic waste.

A meeting by the 41-member Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Nobel Peace Prize-winning body tasked with overseeing Syria's destruction plan, was adjourned until an announcement was made in Albania's capital, Tirana.

Albania's freshly installed prime minister, Edi Rama, was expected to tell the nation whether his government will go along with Washington's request later on Friday (1600 GMT).

The decision comes on the Nov. 15 deadline for a detailed plan to be agreed by the OPCW and Damascus, setting out how to get rid of 1,300 tonnes of sarin, mustard and other nerve agents deemed too dangerous to eliminate amid Syria's civil war.

The United States has requested that Albania, a close Western ally, host the destruction and has been negotiating the technical details amid public protests in the Albanian capital, Tirana.

Syria in September agreed to destroy its entire chemical weapons stockpile in a deal brokered by Russia and the United States. President Bashar al-Assad accepted the plan after Washington threatened to use force in response to a sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of people in Damascus on Aug. 21.

(Reporting By Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Giles Elgood)


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