Last updated: 15 September, 2013

Turkey warns against Syrian stalling tactics

Turkey on Sunday welcomed a US-Russian deal aimed at disarming Syria of its chemical weapons but warned that Damascus could be seeking to buy more time for its deadly military campaign.

“As a matter of principle, Turkey welcomes the disposal of weapons of mass destruction anywhere in the world, and particularly of chemical weapons in our region,” a government statement said.

The United States and Russia reached an agreement Saturday in Geneva on a plan to remove and destroy Syria’s vast chemical arsenal by mid-2014.

The Moscow-brokered initiative came after reports of a deadly chemical attack near Damascus in August prompted Washington and France to threaten military strikes against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The agreement appears to stave off the prospect of Western military involvement but looks set to yield a long and complicated process, with Ankara warning of stalling tactics by Damascus.

The deal “should not be abused by the Syrian regime… to buy time in which to commit more massacres,” the statement said.

The Anatolia news agency reported that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu would meet his US counterpart John Kerry in Paris on Monday.

It did not specify whether he had been invited to join scheduled talks on the agreement’s implementation between the US, French and British chief diplomats or if the pair would meet on the sidelines.

Turkey, a NATO member that has broken off a previously close relationship with the Syrian regime over the conflict, is home to more than 500,000 Syrian refugees.