Croatia considers role in destruction of Syrian chemical weapons

ZAGREB Tue Dec 10, 2013 11:33am EST

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic is seen as he leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris, October 10, 2013. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic is seen as he leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris, October 10, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Charles Platiau

ZAGREB (Reuters) - NATO member Croatia may allow the use of its Adriatic ports to load Syria's deadly chemicals onto a U.S. ship for destruction offshore, Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said on Tuesday.

"It is envisaged that they will be destroyed, probably in the Atlantic, under supervision of the U.S. army. But they have to be loaded onto ships somewhere," the state news agency Hina quoted Milanovic as saying. No one from the government was available for immediate comment.

The chemicals are 'precursors', or chemical ingredients for weapons, Hina said.

"Consultations are under way in all of the Mediterranean," Milanovic said. "We are taking part in this and we want to hear the opinion of the Croatian public. We've seen what happened in Albania recently, so I am calling for a public debate."

Faced with possible protests at home, Albania rejected in mid-November a U.S. request to host the destruction of Syria's chemical arsenal.

The United Nations and the global chemical-weapons watchdog, the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said last week they were waiting for a country to offer a port to load Syria's deadliest chemicals onto a U.S. ship. Italy, Norway and Denmark have offered to transport the chemicals to that port from the northern Syrian port of Latakia with military escorts.

The Hague-based Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in October, will oversee destruction of Syria's chemical weaponry under an agreement that averted U.S. military strikes. It followed a sarin gas attack near Damascus in August that killed hundreds.

(Reporting by Zoran Radosavljevic; Editing by Larry King)

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