Germany to use General Assembly to push for Syrian ceasefire | News | DW | 22.09.2013
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Germany to use General Assembly to push for Syrian ceasefire

Germany’s foreign minister has said he would use the United Nations General Assembly to push for a ceasefire in Syria. Meanwhile, Syria has handed over data on its chemical weaponry to an international watchdog.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in an interview published on Sunday that he believed the time was right to make a new push for a ceasefire in Syria's civil war.

"It has become apparent that there is a growing realization on all sides that the civil war cannot be won through military means," the German foreign minister told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

"This means that for the first time in a long while there could be a chance for a ceasefire, that would provide a respite to the people of Syria, enable humanitarian access to the people and pave the way for a political solution at a Geneva conference," Westerwelle added.

The proposed Geneva conference the German foreign minister referred to has been postponed several times in the past, due to the opposition's refusal to come to the table unless Syrian President Bashar al-Assad steps down. There was no immediate indication that the opposition were prepared to drop this precondition, just as there was no sign that Assad had any intention of relinquishing power anytime soon.

Chemical arsenal data delivered on time

Meanwhile, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Saturday that it was examining information provided by the Assad regime about its chemical arsenal. This came after the UN-backed body, which is based in The Hague, confirmed that it had "received the expected disclosure" from Damascus.

"The Technical Secretariat is currently reviewing the information received," the OPCW statement said.

The delivery of the data on Assad's chemical weaponry was part of a deal agreed between Washington and Moscow a week ago, meant to head off threatened US military strikes on Damascus. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had set a Saturday deadline for Assad to come clean on the chemical weapons his military possesses.

That agreement followed an August 21 attack outside of Damascus involving sarin gas, which Washington says killed more than 1,400 people. The US has accused Assad's forces of being behind the attack.

pfd/jm (Reuters, AFP, dpa)