US, Russians reach Syria deal

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, right, deliver statements in Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday Sept. 14, 2013.

 

GENEVA — After days of intense negotiations, the United States and Russia reached agreement Saturday on a framework to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons by mid-2014 and impose U.N. penalties if the Assad government fails to comply.

 

The deal, announced by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva, includes what Kerry called “a shared assessment” of the weapons stockpile, and a timetable and measures for Syrian President Bashar Assad to follow so that the full inventory can be identified and seized.

 

The U.S. and Russia agreed to immediately press for a U.N. Security Council resolution that enshrines the chemical weapons agreement under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which can authorize both the use of force and nonmilitary measures.

 

President Barack Obama made clear that “if diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act.”

 

Russia, which already has rejected three resolutions on Syria, would be sure to veto a U.N. move toward military action, and U.S. officials said they did not contemplate seeking such an authorization.

 

“The world will now expect the Assad regime to live up to its public commitments,” Kerry told a packed news conference at the hotel where negotiations were conducted since Thursday night. “There can be no games, no room for avoidance or anything less than full compliance by the Assad regime.”

 

It was not immediately clear whether Syria had signed onto the agreement, which requires Damascus to submit a full inventory of its stocks within the next week. Russia does have a close relationship with Syria and holds influence over its Mideast ally.

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