Sep 13, 2013

By Jane Brown

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov say the prospects for a resumption in the Syria peace process are riding on the outcome of their chemical weapons talks.

Kerry, flanked by Lavrov and the U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, told reporters Friday at the U.N. in Geneva after an hour-long meeting that the chances for a second peace conference in Geneva “will obviously depend on the capacity to have success here … on the subject of the chemical weapons.”  Earlier, Kerry bluntly rejected a Syrian pledge to begin what it called a “standard process” by turning over information rather than weapons — and nothing immediately.  “It has to be verifiable,” he explained, “it has to be credible, it has to be timely and implemented in a timely fashion.  And finally, there ought to be consequences if it doesn’t take place.”

Brahimi also met privately with Kerry at a Geneva hotel on Thursday to explore ways to resume international negotiations last held in Geneva in June 2012 aimed at ending the Syrian civil war.  Lavrov says it’s “very unfortunate that for a long time that the Geneva communique was basically abandoned.”

Kerry and Lavrov say they will meet again in New York toward the end of the month to try to fix a date for second conference.

The U-S accuses Syria’s Bashar al-Assad of being behind a chemical weapons attack near Damascus last month. U-S President Obama has threatened to launch a military strike if the regime does not turn over its chemical weapons.  Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will be addressing the Syrian crisis when he holds talks tomorrow in Turkey.  He’ll meet with his counterpart in that nation along with the Turkish President. Canada and Turkey have both called for a strong international response to the attack that left at least several hundred dead.

(The Associated Press)

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