Kerry hopes Crimea won't hit Russian cooperation on Syrian weapons

THE HAGUE Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:55am EDT

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about Ukraine during a town hall at the State Department in Washington March 18, 2014. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about Ukraine during a town hall at the State Department in Washington March 18, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

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THE HAGUE (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he hoped the Crimea crisis would not harm cooperation with Russia on international efforts to destroy Syria's chemical weapons.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government agreed to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal as part of a U.S.-Russian agreement negotiated after a chemical attack last August that killed hundreds of people around Damascus.

"All I can say is I hope the same motivations that drove Russia to be a partner in this effort will still exist," Kerry told reporters in The Hague, where he was due to attend a summit of the G7 leading industrialized nations.

"This is bigger than either of our countries. This is a global challenge," Kerry said.

Syria has missed almost all deadlines agreed in the deal brokered by Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, whom he is due to meet for bilateral talks in The Hague. Syria is several weeks behind schedule in handing over its toxic stockpile.

Plans for a joint mission between Russia and NATO to protect a U.S. cargo ship that will destroy Syria's deadliest chemical weapons have been canceled amid increased tensions over Russia's annexation of the Crimea.

Kerry, who made no further allusion to Crimea in his remarks, noted that the Syrians had also missed a March 15 date for destruction of a dozen production and storage facilities.

"We have some real challenges ahead of us in these next weeks. We in the United States are convinced that if Syria wanted to they could move faster," he added.

Kerry confirmed that about half of Syria's declared chemical weapons arsenal has been shipped out or destroyed within the country.

"We are just about at the 50 percent removal mark. That is significant but the real significance would only be when we get all the weapons out," he said.

Kerry was speaking at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which won the Nobel Peace prize last year, and was also due to meet the OPCW's Turkish head, Ahmet Uzumcu.

(Reporting by Fredrik Dahl, Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Comments (4)
Jossef wrote:
“John Kerry said on Monday he hoped the Crimea crisis would not harm cooperation with Russia on international efforts to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons.” This is one more example (in addition to the outlandish Israeli-Palestinian peace process he has imposed on both parties) that John Kerry lives in a different reality. Mr. Kerry, “hope” is not a strategy for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons. The reason why “hope” has now become the only remaining option for the Obama administration, to the Syrian chemical weapon issue, is that after warning Bashar Assad and drawing a “red line” on the use of chemical weapons, Obama jumped on an insincere offer from Putin that Syria would relinquish its chemical weapon. So, Putin realized Obama was looking for an escape route. To date, two deadlines have been broken and less than 50% of Syria’s chemical weapons have been removed.

Mar 24, 2014 3:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
gornisht wrote:
Kerry used the word “hope ” re Syrian weapons. He is exactly right. Perhaps now, the US is getting wise to Putin. retaliation is always an option for Putin.

What is more ominous, is his support for Iran. Iran trades oil for military hardware from Russia in a very big way. Also, Russia is considering building another nuclear plant for Iran. Once Russian technicians and other workers are in Iran, this will result in a “no entry” zone. In effect, it becomes a pseudo occupation zone. Not comforting, because it no longer is Iran, but Russia.

If the West and the US do not act fast, Iran will be a nuclear nation!!!! Lets hope the West and the US are not sleeping at the switch.

Mar 24, 2014 4:09pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
carlmartel wrote:
Russia wants the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons because they are a poor man’s atomic bomb. That was the rationale for banning them, and it remains valid. Russia fights muslim rebels in the southern Caucasus and prepares to join China and 4 central Asian countries in the SCO to watch Afghanistan after the US and NATO leave in December. Unfortunately, civil wars don’t always follow precise schedules. Russia and China rescued the US from killing 9,000 US troops and wounding 66,000 more, twice the Iraq losses, because intervention in Syria would spread to Iraq and Lebanon for twice the war and losses. Britain and France would suffer smaller losses with smaller numbers of troops.

Crimea is merely a distraction from the global war that started on September 11, 2001. Most Americans can’t see that Russia and China are de facto US allies who fight muslim rebels in the Caucasus and Xinjiang. Osama bin Laden demanded the US to force Russia and China out of their muslim provinces. Some US citizens, including christians and other conservatives, appear content to support al Qaeda and the Taliban in their objectives.

Mar 24, 2014 5:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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