William Hague Welcomes Russian And US Agreement On Syrian Chemical Weapons

Posted: Updated:
WILLIAM HAGUE
The Foreign Secretary said the deal was a "significant step forward" | AP

Foreign Secretary William Hague has welcomed an agreement by the United States and Russia on a plan to secure and destroy Syria's arsenal of chemical weapons.

Mr Hague said the framework agreement, hammered out by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov during three days of talks in Geneva, was a "significant step forward".

He said that it should be followed by swift action to begin the transfer of Syrian chemical weapons - reportedly scattered at multiple locations around the country - to international control.

"I welcome today's announcement of a framework agreement to ensure the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons programme. This is a significant step forward," he said.

"The priority must now be full and prompt implementation of the agreement, to ensure the transfer of Syria's chemical weapons to international control.

"The onus is now on the Assad regime to comply with this agreement in full. The international community, including Russia, must hold the regime to account.

"This includes doing everything we can to stop the continuing bloodshed in Syria, bringing all sides together to agree a political solution to the conflict."

Mr Hague is due to travel to Paris on Monday to be briefed by Mr Kerry on the details of the plan along with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

The deal requires Syria to submit a full inventory of its stockpiles within a week, international inspectors to be on the ground by November and the weapons to be destroyed or removed from the country by mid 2014.

Failure to could comply would be referred to the United Nations Security Council, with the prospect of a Chapter 7 resolution which could permit either a military or a non-military response.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "We welcome any move by the Russians and the Americans, working together, in order to impose an exacting, verifiable timetable which won't slip, which won't allow Assad to somehow escape from his obligations, such that chemical weapons are put beyond the use of the regime again, put under international surveillance and ultimately disposed of altogether.

"If the talks between the Russians and the Americans in Geneva lead to that outcome I think everybody will be very relieved at the good work that has clearly been achieved between the American and Russian governments."