Syrian govt accepts Russian proposal

Even as the Syrian government accepted a Russian proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control to “stave off” a possible US aggression, an opposition group Tuesday rejected this.

“We held a round of very effective talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday,” Xinhua cited Interfax news agency as quoting Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem.

At a meeting with Russian Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin in Moscow Tuesday, al-Moualem said that Syria made the decision in order to “stave off an American aggression”.

US President Barack Obama has been seeking congressional approval for military actions against Syria for an alleged Aug 21 chemical weapons attack outside the Syrian capital, which reportedly killed at least 1,429 people, including 426 children. The Syrian government has denied the allegation.

In its proposal, Russia has urged the Syrian government not only to put its chemical weapons under international control, but also to agree on their destruction and on full-fledged participation of the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

However, in Istanbul, a major Syrian opposition group has rejected the proposal.

The opposition Syrian National Coalition said the Russian proposal does not address the issue of accountability for crimes against innocents, in reference to Damascus’s alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people, Xinhua reported.

“The proposal is a political strategy that aims to gain more time, which will allow the regime to cause more deaths and destruction in Syria, and poses a threat to the countries and peoples of the region,” the statement said.

The opposition noted that the violation of international law, alluding to the Aug 21 attack, necessitated a serious and proportionate response.

“Under no circumstances should war crimes go unpunished. Crimes against humanity cannot be absolved through political concessions, or surrendering the weapons used to commit them,” the statement said.

India is among several countries that have welcomed the Russian proposal.

Calling it a “positive development”, Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in New Delhi that India’s approach on chemical weapons is that “we have consistently advocated elimination and complete destruction of chemical weapons, and pending elimination, it is viably important to ensure that all chemical stockpiles are in safe and secure custody”.

India has also said that it was not for a military solution to the Syria issue and consistently called for a political solution, especially through the Geneva process.

He said “taking the four elements together, if there are any proposals that are moving in this direction, obviously in India we will see these as positive developments”.

Among others to hail the Russian initiative are Japan, China and Iran.–IANS