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Putin hails Syria plan process

October 8, 2013

Russia’s President Putin has said Washington and Moscow agree on how to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria. Putin also praised Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for cooperating with international weapons inspectors.

U.N. vehicle transporting a team of experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) returns to their hotel in Damascus October 7, 2013. Experts from the OPCW, supported by the United Nations, aim to oversee the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons production and mixing equipment by November 1, and deal with all chemical weapons materials by the end of June 2014. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT CIVIL UNREST)
Image: Reuters

After meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said both nations were on the same page.

"We have a common understanding of what needs to be done and how. I am very glad that President Obama is occupying this position (on chemical arms)," Putin told reporters Tuesday at the end of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation trade summit on the Indonesian island of Bali.

President Putin also said that Syria's President Assad was "very actively" cooperating with international weapons inspectors tasked with destroying Damascus' chemical weapons.

The team of experts arrived in Syria earlier this month and Russia, Syria's long-time ally, has offered to assist with the demolition process.

The deal to destroy the weapons was struck by Russia and the US and was endorsed by the UN Security Council on September 27.

The plan was launched after a chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21 killed hundreds. The US blamed the attack on the Assad regime and put the death toll at around 1,400 people. Following the attack, Obama threatened a punitive military strike but struggled to win international and domestic support, which led to the Moscow-Washington brokered deal.

On Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recommended the team be increased to about 100 scientists, logistics and security experts who will stay for up to a year. Ban said to complete the plan by mid-2014 the experts will have to work in "dangerous and volatile" conditions.

"Heavy artillery, air strikes, mortar barrages and the indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas are commonplace and battle lines shift quickly," he added.

hc/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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