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Russia 'offers four-step plan for Syria arms handover'

The plan was given to the American side on Tuesday, but only announced by Russia yesterday evening.

Anti-war activists in Los Angeles
Anti-war activists in Los Angeles
Image: AP Photo/Nick Ut

RUSSIA HAS HANDED the United States a plan for the Syrian regime to hand over its chemical weapons in four stages, starting with Damascus becoming a member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The plan, first announced by Moscow this week, aims to avert threatened US military action in retribution for a chemical weapons attack outside Damascus that the West says was perpetrated by the Syrian regime.

Revealing the details of the plan for the first time, Russia’s Kommersant daily said it had been given to the American side on Tuesday, although Russia only announced on Wednesday evening that the plan had been passed on.

First step

As a first step, Damascus would join the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Kommersant said, quoting a Russian diplomatic source.

Then Syria would have to declare the location of the chemical weapons arsenals and where they are made. The third step would be allowing OPCW inspectors into Syria to examine them.

The final step would be deciding, in cooperation with the inspectors, how to destroy the weapons.

Kommersant, which is known for its strong foreign ministry sources, said that who would physically destroy the weapons has yet to be decided but it was not excluded that the United States and Russia could do this jointly.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US counterpart John Kerry are due to discuss the plan in Geneva in talks Thursday.

Kommersant said that it was the American side who requested the talks after receiving a copy of the details of the Russian plan.

- © AFP, 2013

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