Syria to fulfil chemical weapons initiative if US ends threats: Al-Assad
MOSCOW - Reuters / Agence France-Presse
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview in Damascus in this image from a Sept. 12 video footage by Russian state television RU24. REUTERS / RU24Syria will fulfil an initiative to hand over its chemical weapons only when the United States stops threatening to strike Syria, RIA news agency quoted President Bashar al-Assad as saying in a television interview.
Al-Assad also said that Damascus will begin handing over information on its chemical weapons stockpiles one month after it joins a anti-chemical weapons convention.
"When we see the United States really wants stability in our region and stops threatening, striving to attack, and also ceases arms deliveries to terrorists, then we will believe that the necessary processes can be finalised," he was quoted as saying in an interview with Russian state-run Rossiya-24 channel aired on Sept. 12.
Al-Assad also said that Syria's decision to cede control of its chemical weapons was the result of a Russian proposal, not the threat of U.S. military intervention.
"Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia. The U.S. threats did not influence the decision," Interfax agency quoted al-Assad as saying.
Syria set to submit necessary documents to U.N.
Al-Assad also told Rossiya-24 that Syria would submit documents to the United Nations for an agreement governing the handover of its chemical arsenal, according to RIA news agency's report.
Rossiya-24 did not immediately air the interview and it was not clear when it was recorded.
The reports came hours before Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry were due to meet in Geneva to discuss the proposal, which Lavrov announced on Monday Sept. 16, and Moscow's plan for implementing it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the initiative will not succeed unless Washington abandons plans for potential air strikes to punish Assad for an Aug. 21 poison gas attack which U.S. President Barack Obama blames on Syrian government forces.
Syria, which denies it was behind that attack, has agreed to Moscow's proposal that it give up its chemical weapons stocks, averting what would have been the first direct Western intervention in a war that has killed more than 100,000 people.