Syria has welcomed Russia’s initiative to put its chemical weapons stockpile under international control in a bid to avert US military intervention.
The offer was made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday during talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in Moscow.
Muallem said he welcomed the proposal, which calls on Syria to hand over control of its chemical weapons to the international community and then have them destroyed.
“I state that the Syrian Arab Republic welcomes the Russian initiative, motivated by the Syrian leadership’s concern for the lives of our citizens and the security of our country, and also motivated by our confidence in the wisdom of the Russian leadership, which is attempting to prevent American aggression against our people,” Muallem said through an interpreter.
The Russian initiative came shortly after US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in London that the only way for Syria to avoid military action is to hand over its entire stockpile of chemical weapons within the next week.
But, US officials later said that Kerry was making a “rhetorical argument” rather than a serious offer.
Washington is struggling to secure support for military action against Syria over the accusation that the Syrian government was involved in a deadly chemical attack near Damascus on August 21.
The White House, however, has admitted it has no “irrefutable” evidence of Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons, but said a “strong common-sense test irrespective of the intelligence” suggested the Syrian army was responsible for the August poison gas attack.
The US Senate will vote on authorizing military intervention in Syria later this week.
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned of massive retaliation if the United States launches a military strike against his country.
Assad told CBS Television on Monday that Washington should “expect everything” if US forces attack his country.