Russia calls on Syria to hand over chemical weapons

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UN chemical weapons experts visited the site of an attack last month.
Russia has urged Syrian President Bashar al Assad to hand over his chemical weapons to avert a US-led military strike on Damascus.
Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, told reporters that he had conveyed the idea to his Syrian counterpart at talks in Moscow and expected “a quick and, I hope, a positive answer.”
Russia is an ally of Syria, and Russian opposition is one reason the United States is not working through the United Nations to build support for a strike to punish the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons in its civil war.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that if President Bashar al-Assad wants to avert an attack on Syria in response to his government\’s alleged use of chemical weapons he should hand over his entire arsenal by the end of the week.
Speaking Monday in London, the top U.S. diplomat added that he did not believe Assad would take such action and questioned whether it was even possible with a civil war raging in Syria.
Still, the top U.S. diplomat said the Obama administration is convinced that chemical weapons in Syria are controlled by "a very tight network" with the president at its center.
In a CBS interview taped in Damascus, Assad denied ordering the August 21 sarin gas attack outside the Syrian capital that Washington says killed more than 1,400 people.
Assad warned the United States "should expect everything" in response to a potential U.S.-led military strike, saying that if "rebels or terrorists in the region" have chemical weapons, they could use them after any American intervention.
Meanwhile, the Russian and Syrian foreign ministers said Monday they will push for the return of United Nations inspectors to Syria to continue their probe into the use of chemical weapons. Russia\’s Sergei Lavrov said after talks with his Syrian counterpart that Moscow wants Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control.
The Obama administration is launching an intense two-day push to convince Congress and the American people of what it says is the need for a military strike on Syria.
Top security advisers will hold classified and open-door briefings with lawmakers this week. President Barack Obama will give interviews to six major television networks Monday before making a White House address to the nation Tuesday night.
More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and the UN refugee agency says about one third of Syria\’s pre-war population of 20.8 million have fled their homes, either to other countries or safer areas within Syria.
Source: Agencies

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