Watchdog meets on Syria chemical arsenal destruction plan
The world`s chemical weapons watchdog met today to approve a final timetable for ridding Syria of its entire arsenal by mid-2014, amid hopes that long-delayed peace talks could be held soon.
The Hague: The world`s chemical weapons watchdog met on Friday to approve a final timetable for ridding Syria of its entire arsenal by mid-2014, amid hopes that long-delayed peace talks could be held soon.
Today is the deadline for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to agree "destruction milestones" for the more than 1,000 tonnes of dangerous chemicals in Syria, according to the terms of a US-Russian deal that headed off US military strikes on President Bashar al-Assad`s regime.
A Syrian delegation has been in The Hague, where the OPCW is headquartered, to finalise the roadmap, which is expected to be adopted by consensus by the watchdog`s 41-member Executive Council.
The talks were adjourned around 1600 IST until 2200 IST, OPCW spokesman Christian Chartier said. Delegates were "still talking about the text of the decision", a diplomatic source said.
Despite general agreement by the international community on helping Syria get rid of its chemical weapons, contentious points remain. They include the supply of so-called "dual purpose" equipment to help with the transport of the chemicals, and the destination they will be taken to for destruction.
Amid ongoing daily bloodshed in Syria, reports have said that a long-delayed peace conference could be held in Geneva on December 12, although regime and opposition officials have not confirmed the date.
The international community has been trying for months to convene a peace conference dubbed "Geneva II", but proposed dates have come and gone with no progress.
The regime has said it is willing to attend provided Assad`s departure is not on the table, while the opposition insists on Assad`s departure and exclusion from the transition process.
Assad discussed the talks in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday, the Kremlin said, with a high-level Damascus team due in Moscow next week to finalise details of the Geneva conference.
A team of UN-OPCW inspectors has been on the ground since October checking Syria`s weapons and facilities.
Destruction of declared chemical weapons production facilities was completed last month and all chemicals and precursors placed under seal, the OPCW said last month ahead of a November 1 deadline backed by a UN Security Council resolution.
There is consensus that the chemicals are best destroyed out of the country, which is wracked by a conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The United Nations says the more than two-and-a-half year uprising against Assad`s regime has also forced millions to flee their homes.