Putin hopeful on arms plan
Updated: 2013-09-21 08:18
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday in Moscow that he could not be 100-percent certain a US-Russian plan for the destruction of Syrian chemical arms would be carried out successfully.
"But everything we have seen so far in recent days gives us confidence that this will happen," he said, adding, "I hope so."
US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Washington that it was essential the deal reached last Saturday be enforced and that the UN Security Council be willing to act on it next week, when the UN General Assembly holds its annual meeting in New York.
"It is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out in the strongest possible terms about the importance of enforceable action to rid the world of Syria's chemical weapons." Kerry said.
French President Francois Hollande suggested on Thursday for the first time that Paris could arm Syrian rebels in a "controlled framework," since they were now caught, he said, between the Syrian government on one side and radical Islamists on the other.
Rebels have been fighting government forces in a civil war that has claimed 100,000 lives since 2011. Russia and the United States brokered the deal to put Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's chemical arms stockpiles under international control to avoid possible US military strikes that Washington said would punish Assad for a poison gas attack last month that the United States says killed 1,429 people.
Assad, in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, again denied his forces were responsible. Putin also reiterated Russia's contention that the attack was staged by opponents of Assad.