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Russia, Syria in talks for 'concrete' chem arms plan

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Moscow is currently in talks with Damascus to develop a "concrete plan" for the Syrian regime to hand over its chemical weapons arsenal, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

"We (Russia) are currently working on preparing a workable, precise and concrete plan and for this there are literally right now, in these minutes, contacts with the Syrian side," Lavrov said at a news conference with his Libyan counterpart.

"And we expect to present this plan soon and we will be ready to work on it with the UN secretary general, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, with the participation of members of the UN Security Council," he added.

Lavrov on Monday proposed for the Syrian regime to cede control of its chemical arms and subsequently have them destroyed, having seized a remark by US Secretary of State John Kerry that such a move, done "without delay" could avert a military strike.

US President Barack Obama remarked that the proposal could "potentially be a significant breakthrough" and pushed back the timetable for possible US strike, though keeping scepticism over the plan's workability.

Lavrov expressed satisfaction over "the wide positive acceptance of this proposal in the world" but conceded that the initiative was not just Moscow's invention.

"The proposal to place Syria's chemical arms under international control is not entirely a Russian initiative," he said.

"It has emerged from the contacts we had with American colleagues, from yesterday's statement by John Kerry, who allowed for the possibility to avoid strikes if this problem can be solved."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130910/russia-syria-talks-concrete-chem-arms-plan-0