World leaders have praised a U.S.-Russian agreement requiring Syria to list all of its chemical weapons within a week and destroy the arsenal by mid-2014.
The deal was announced by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on September 14, after three days of talks in Geneva.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, speaking in Beijing alongside visiting French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on September 15, said the agreement would help ease Syria’s crisis.
"China welcomes the framework agreement reached recently in Geneva by Russia and the United States about how to deal with Syria's chemical weapons arsenal," Yi said. "We believe that this framework agreement has ameliorated the present explosive and tense situation in Syria and has opened a new perspective on using peaceful methods to resolve the Syrian chemical weapons issue."
The French foreign minister said he also has a series of meetings on the plan in the coming days.
"The Geneva agreement, the draft framework agreement, is an important progress," Fabius said. "Of course, it doesn't resolve everything. There are a number of details to go through. I will meet with our colleagues, John Kerry and [British Foreign Secretary] William Hague in Paris [on September 16], and I will be in Moscow the following morning to meet our colleague, Mr. Lavrov. But on the basis of the draft framework agreement, we have to move forward."
French President Francois Hollande meanwhile said a UN resolution on Syria could be voted on by the end of next week. Hollande, speaking live on TF1 television, said the U.S.-Russian deal is an "important step" but "not an endpoint."
Israeli officials were briefed about the plan by Kerry during a visit to Israel on September 15. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “the real test” of the pact “will be in its implementation: the full dismantling of the regime's chemical weapons stockpile."
Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi meanwhile called the deal “a step closer to a political solution” for Syria.
Ali Haidar, Syria’s minister for national reconciliation, called the agreement “a victory for Syria.”
Haidar said the deal had “averted a war” and would “help the Syrians emerge from crisis.”
But the opposition Syrian National Coalition criticized the plan, saying Assad has repeatedly shown he can’t be trusted to keep promises.
The Syrian National Coalition also called for a ban on ballistic missiles and the use of air power by Assad’s forces.
Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander Salim Idriss said accused Syria’s military of redeploying chemical weapons to Lebanon and Iraq in recent days.
"When the inspectors from the United Nations come to Syria, the regime will have weapons, chemical weapons, chemical materials in Iraq and in Lebanon," Idriss said. "And we are afraid that the regime will use these materials against the civilians in Syria, against the fighters of the FSA."
U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking on U.S. television on September 15, rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that Syrian rebels were responsible for the August 21 chemical gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people in the suburbs of Damascus.
Obama said “nobody in the world takes seriously” Putin’s claim. But Obama welcomed Putin’s involvement in a possible diplomatic solution -- stressing that any deal with Syria must include a verifiable way to ensure that Assad’s regime gives up all of its chemical weapons.
Obama also revealed that he and newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rohani have exchanged letters
about the situation in Syria.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP