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US, Russia agree plan to dispose of Syria chem weapons

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Washington and Moscow have agreed a deal to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"We have reached a shared assessment of the amount and type of chemical weapons possessed by the Assad regime. And we are committed to the rapid assumption of control by the international community of those weapons," Kerry told reporters at a joint press conference with Lavrov, after wrapping up three days of negotiations in Geneva.

Kerry said that the accord called for the "expeditious destruction and verification" of Syria's chemical arsenal, and required Damascus to allow "immediate, unfettered access" to weapons sites.

Syria must submit an inventory of its chemical weapons within a week, and inspectors must be on the ground in Syria by November, with the goal of eliminating the arms by mid-2014, Kerry said.

"One of the reasons we believe this is achievable is because the Assad regime has taken extraordinary means to keep control of these weapons," he added, noting that the chemical weapons were mainly in regions under Damascus' control.

"So that's the silver lining," he said.

"We should not have a problem achieving access to these sites and that will soon be put to the test," he added.

Washington and Moscow also agreed that in the event of any non-compliance by Syria "we have committed to impose measures under Chapter 7 within the UN Security Council," Kerry said. He was referring to a UN article which sets out possible sanctions including the threat of military force.

"What remedy is chosen is subject to the debate within the council, which is always true, but there's a commitment to impose measures," he added.

Kerry said there was more at stake than the safety of the Syrian people.

"Providing this framework is fully implemented it can end the threat these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people but also their neighbours... Because of the threat of proliferation this framework can provide greater protection and security to the world," he said.

"The world will now expect the Assad regime to live up to its commitments... There can be no room for games. Or anything less than full compliance by the Assad regime," he added.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130914/us-russia-agree-plan-dispose-syria-chem-weapons-0