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Answer by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the mass media’s question about the Russian-American negotiations in Geneva on the problem of Syrian chemical weapons Astana, 12 September 2013


1728-12-09-2013

Question: Today you fly to Geneva to meet the US Secretary of State John Kerry. The UN/LAS Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi will also be there. Could you specify who will participate in this meeting, will it be trilateral? Is a separate talk planned between Russian and American experts on Syrian chemical weapons?

Sergey Lavrov: First of all, we agreed to discuss, in Geneva, the initiative (widely supported throughout the world) regarding the need to agree on putting the Syrian arsenals of chemical weapons under international control, understanding that this will involve refraining from the use of armed force against the Syrian Arab Republic. Both the Russian and the American party are sending groups of experts to Geneva, who have the necessary knowledge and experience in determining ways of resolving such questions. These are mostly technical weapons.

We certainly need to ensure the accession of Syria to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which means that the regions of the Syrian Arab Republic with warehouses of chemical weapons and its chemical programme should be disclosed. On these grounds, experts will determine what particular measures will be required to secure places of storage and arsenals of chemical weapons. I repeat that this is a technical side of the case and such examination is required to develop our respective plans.

Of course, we are not going to encroach on preparation works in the Russian-American format. International experts, experts from the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) must participate, and our American colleagues have already started a substantial talk with them. Therefore, it is one part of our agenda.

We also agreed with John Kerry that it would be wrong to miss the opportunity to use our stay in Geneva to conduct a meeting devoted to the issues of preparation for the Geneva-2 conference. Since we have a chance to avoid a military scenario with external interference, certainly there is a chance that many months of work on the preparation for Geneva-2 may switch to a practical stage, at the same time understanding that our Western and regional partners will at last ensure a constructive attitude of the inexorable Syrian opposition to the Russian-American initiative to convene an international conference. Against this background, considering the fact that Lakhdar Brahimi and his team are located in Geneva, we do not exclude the possibility of a trilateral meeting to talk about the prospects of Geneva-2 along with the problem of chemical weapons, which currently has top priority.