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US, Russia agree deal on Syria chemical weapons

The United States and Russia have agreed on a proposal to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday after nearly three days of talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Kerry said that, under the pact, Syria must submit a “comprehensive listing” of its chemical weapons stockpiles within one week.

Kerry, at a press conference with Lavrov, said that under the agreement, U.N. weapons inspectors must be on the ground in Syria no later than November. The goal, he said, is the complete destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons by the middle of 2014.

Kerry and Lavrov said that if Syria does not comply with the agreement, which must be finalised by the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, it would face consequences under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, the part that covers sanctions and military action.

Kerry said there was no agreement on what those measures would be. U.S. President Barack Obama, he said, reserves the right to use military force in Syria.

“There’s no diminution of options,” he said.

Lavrov said of the agreement, “There (is) nothing said about the use of force and not about any automatic sanctions.” (Reuters)

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