by Staff Writers
The Hague (AFP) Oct 27, 2013
Syria handed over a detailed plan to destroy its chemical stockpile on time, international watchdog OPCW said Sunday.
"On 24 October 2013, the Syrian Arab Republic submitted to the OPCW its formal initial declaration covering its chemical weapons programme," the watchdog said in a statement, adding that Damascus had had until Sunday to do so.
Damascus was required to submit the destruction plan under a US-Russian deal agreed last month that headed off military strikes on Syria.
The accord also gives Syria up to mid-2014 to destroy its chemical arsenal.
President Bashar al-Assad's regime has already handed over an inventory of its chemical weapons and facilities, and international inspectors are already busy inspecting and destroying them.
The OPCW said a first monthly report of the international inspectors, covering their work on the ground since October 1, is ready and will be sent to the UN Security Council by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
Syria's latest disclosures "provide the basis on which plans are devised for a systematic, total and verified destruction of declared chemical weapons and production facilities", said the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which won this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
"The document from Syria includes a general plan of destruction for consideration by the OPCW Executive Council," it added.
The OPCW's Executive Council will use the Syrian declaration to decide by November 15 on "destruction milestones" for Syria's arsenal.
Syria has also sent in a declaration of its chemical weapons activities and facilities, meeting its obligations as a new state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW said.
Peace envoy to arrive in Damascus on Monday: source
"Lakhdar Brahimi should be arriving on Monday to discuss preparations for Geneva 2," the source told AFP on condition of anonymity in reference to the talks.
Brahimi's expected visit comes after 19 powerful rebel groups warned that anyone who negotiates with President Bashar al-Assad's regime will be tried for treason.
It would be the veteran Algerian troubleshooter's first visit to the war-torn country since late December.
At that time, Brahimi called for "real change" in Syria, and for all powers to be handed over to a transitional government.
Official media in Syria responded to his remarks by branding him as biased and mocking him as an "ageing tourist".
This time around, Damascus has said the 79-year-old is welcome so long as he stays "impartial".
Brahimi was appointed the UN and Arab League envoy to Syria in September 2012, after Kofi Annan quit the post.
On Saturday, he was in Tehran, where he said Iran's participation in peace talks was "necessary".
His regional tour had previously taken him to Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.
On Thursday, he met in Turkey with the head of the main rebel Free Syrian Army, General Selim Idriss, and other opposition commanders.
Brahimi is pushing for regime and rebel representatives to come together at the negotiating table.
Assad on Monday reiterated his position that his regime will not engage in discussion with opponents with ties to the rebels or to any foreign state.
The opposition has insisted it will not participate in Geneva 2 should there not be guarantees that such talks would lead to Assad's fall.
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