Last updated: 20 September, 2013

Kerry and Lavrov talk of strong UN Syria resolution

US Secretary of State John Kerry said he and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov spoke Friday about a “strong” United Nations Security Council resolution on ridding Syria of chemical weapons.

The two top diplomats are in daily contact on the matter and sealed a deal in Geneva last weekend aimed at dismantling the Damascus regime’s chemical arsenal.

While welcoming Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans to the State Department, Kerry told reporters he had a fairly long phone conversation with Lavrov earlier in the day.

“We talked about the cooperation which we both agreed to continue to provide, moving not only toward the adoption of the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) rules and regulations, but also a resolution that is firm and strong within the United Nations,” Kerry said.

“We will continue to work on that.”

Timmermans, meanwhile, said the Netherlands and the United States were “exactly on the same page.”

“In the UN, we see eye to eye as to the content of the United Nations Security Council resolution, which should be very firm on making sure that (President Bashar al-) Assad, who doesn’t have a track record of actually doing what he promises, does what he has promised now,” he said.

On Thursday, Kerry said the UN Security Council must be prepared to agree to a binding resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons next week.

The five permanent members of the panel — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — have been wrangling over the text of the resolution since Monday in an effort to find common ground.

Russia, a key ally of Damascus, opposes all references to any possible use of force.

Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the US hoped a resolution would be agreed “as quickly as possible” in time for a UN Security Council vote next week.

Just as Kerry and Timmermans were speaking, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it has received initial details on Syria’s program and arsenal, which it has been tasked with dismantling.

The world’s chemical weapons watchdog, which enforces the Chemical Weapons Convention that Syria has applied to join, has repeatedly postponed a meeting of its Executive Council to discuss the practicalities of how to dispose of Syria’s chemical weapons.

A new date for the meeting has not yet been set.

Diplomatic sources said that a draft text to be discussed at the meeting had not yet been agreed upon by the United States and Russia.

The State Department, meanwhile, confirmed that Syria had given an “initial” list of its chemical weapons to the OPCW, in line with the Geneva agreement.

“Syria has provided an initial document to the OPCW regarding its chemical weapons stockpile and sites,” Harf said. “The United States… will be making a careful and thorough review of the initial document.”