Middle East

Damascus blames the West for chemical delays

File - Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his office, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

BEIRUT: Syrian state news agency SANA quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad as blaming Western backers of the revolt for delays in the handover of Syrian chemical weapons.

“Western states are responsible for any delays in closing this file, because they are politicizing” the process, Mekdad said.

While he did not specify how so-called Western support to “armed terrorist groups” was delaying the handover, it may have been a reference to the continued presence of some chemical stockpiles in areas under rebel control.

Mekdad made the comments during a meeting in Damascus with Sigrid Kaag, who leads the joint mission by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to verify Syria’s compliance with its agreed handover of its stockpiles of chemicals and chemical weapons.

Under a deal brokered by the U.S. and Russia after a chemical attack near Damascus that killed hundreds last August, Syria agreed to hand over its chemical weapons.

SANA quoted Kaag as praising Syria’s commitment to carrying out its obligations under the deal, adding that “these achievements would not have taken place without clear Syrian cooperation.”

Kaag said Damascus had shown “seriousness” in dealing with its international obligations, “despite the difficult security conditions” in the country.

Last week, the U.N.-OPCW urged Damascus to hand over its remaining agents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 12, 2014, on page 8.




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