Syria hails chemical arms deal as a `victory`, thanks Russia

A US-Russian plan to remove Syria`s chemical weapons is a "victory" that averts a war, a Syrian minister said on Sunday, as Washington`s top diplomat briefed Israel about the landmark deal.

Damascus: A US-Russian plan to remove Syria`s chemical weapons is a "victory" that averts a war, a Syrian minister said on Sunday, as Washington`s top diplomat briefed Israel about the landmark deal.

"On one hand, it helps the Syrians emerge from the crisis and on the other it has allowed for averting war against Syria...," Minister of State for National Reconciliation Ali Haidar told Russian news agency Ria Novosti.

"It`s a victory for Syria that was achieved thanks to our Russian friends." His remarks came as US Secretary of State John Kerry met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to brief him on the plan to eradicate Syria`s chemical weapons.

Washington is seeking to bolster international support for the agreement inked in Geneva on Saturday, which demands action from Damascus within days.

The ambitious plan to dismantle and destroy Syria`s chemical arms stockpile -- one of the largest in the world -- by mid-2014 was thrashed out during three days of talks in Geneva between Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

It gives Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a week to hand over details of his regime`s arsenal of the internationally banned arms in order to avert unspecified sanctions and the threat of US-led military strikes.
It also specifies there must be immediate access for arms control experts and that inspections of what the US says is some 45 sites linked to the Syrian chemical weapons programme must be completed by November.
The deal won the backing of China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, which like Russia has vetoed several UN resolutions on Syria.

AFP