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Assad ready to handover Syria chemical weapons to US, if it pays $1bn

Last Updated: Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 13:06

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Moscow: Reiterating his denial of Syrian regime being involved in Aug 21 chemical attack, President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday said he was “committed” to the US-Russia agreement on dismantling chemical weapons which could take one year and cost one billion dollars.

Speaking in an interview to the Fox News, Assad asserted that he was completely committed to fulfilling the requirements for destroying chemical weapons which he said would be "a very complicated operation, technically".

"We didn`t say that we are joining partially. ... We joined fully. We sent the letter. We sent the document. And we are committed to the full requirement of this agreement," Assad said.

The agreement stipulates that Assad regime must provide details of location and size of Syria chemical arsenal to the international community within a week.

Assad said he was ready to let experts access the weapons and provide he details about them within the given deadline.

When asked about whether he was in favour of handing over the arms arsenal to the US, Assad said, in what sounded as an indirect reference to US President Barack Obama,"Listen to your people. Follow the common sense of your people".

"It needs about one billion. It is very detrimental to the environment. If the American administration is ready to pay this money and take the responsibility of bringing toxic materials to the United States, why don`t they do it?" Assad added.

Denying that chemical stockpile were used by the Syrian regime, Assad contended that his government was able to handover the arsenal because rebels were supported by the government s and hence had control over their chemical arms.

"Sarin gas is called kitchen gas. You know why? Because anybody can make sarin in his house. Any rebel can make sarin. Second, we know that all the rebels are supported by governments. So any government that would have such chemical can hand it over,” Assad said.

Assad’s commitment to abide by the Russia-US agreement was confirmed by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov who said that the Syrian President was "very serious" about the chemical disarmament plan.

The Russian diplomat added that Syria had handed him "material evidence" implicating the rebels in the attack.

First Published: Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 09:10

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