09/14/2013, 00.00
SYRIA - UN - RUSSIA - US
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As US and Russia agree on chemical weapons, Ban Ki-moon says Assad guilty of "crimes against humanity"

Kerry and Lavrov agree to agenda that calls on Syria to deliver all the data on its chemical weapons stockpile within a week. By November, UN inspectors must be on the ground. On 16 September, UN inspectors will report on the Ghouta massacre, where chemical weapons were used. Kerry will meet Hollande and Netanyahu.

Geneva (AsiaNews) - In Geneva, negotiations between Russia and the United States on the fate of Syria's chemical weapons have ended in an agreement. Meanwhile, according to unconfirmed reports, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is apparently quoted as saying that Bashar Assad "committed many crimes against humanity".

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed to an agenda that would see Syria to deliver all the data on its chemical weapons stockpile within a week, including the names of storage sites. The deal would see UN inspectors in place by early November to check for the sites, with the stockpiles placed under international control ready to be destroyed by mid-2014.

Both the Syrian army and rebels must facilitate the task of inspectors (with a ceasefire). If Syria fails to comply, the deal could be enforced by a UN resolution backed by the threat of sanctions or military force.

This came after three days of talks between Kerry and Lavrov to implement Russia's proposal of removing and destroying Syria's chemical weapons.

Although the US wants the plan to be carried out as soon as possible, it will likely take several months before it is done. In fact, accounting for and disposing of Syria's estimated 1,000 tonnes stockpile of chemical weapons will require time, a situation well understood by the Obama administration, whose proposed military strike against syria had found little support at home and abroad.

Meanwhile, on Monday, UN inspectors are expected to issue a report on the massacre that took place on 21 August in Ghouta. The United States blames the Assad regime for the apparent use of chemical weapons whilst Russia blames the rebels.

In fact, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon yesterday said that a report by UN inspectors would confirm that chemical weapons were used. However, the UN team was not allowed under its mandate to assign responsibility and Ban himself did not say who was responsible for this attack.

The secretary general did say however that it was up to the Syrian people to decide whether to oust Assad or not, and that the regime's leader "committed many crimes against humanity" and would be held accountable when the conflict was over.

After the meeting in Geneva, Kerry is expected to travel immediately to Paris and then to Israel.

French President Francois Hollande and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are among the strongest supporters of military action against Syria.

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