A U.N. team investigating an alleged chemical attack that killed hundreds last month in a Damascus suburb, leaves their hotel in a convoy, in Damascus, Syria.
MOSCOW (AP) The Russian foreign minister says Moscow will push
Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control.
Lavrov said Monday that if such a move would help avert a possible U.S.
strike on Syria, Russia will start work "immediately" to persuade Syria
to relinquish control over its chemical arsenals.
reporters that Russia would urge Syria to concentrate its chemical
weapons in certain areas under international oversight and then
Russian and Syrian foreign ministers on Monday
strongly pushed for the return of United Nations inspectors to Syria to
continue their probe into the use of chemical weapons and again warned
Washington against launching an attack.
The statement comes as
President Barack Obama, who blames President Bashar Assad for killing
hundreds of his own people in a chemical attack last month, is pressing
for a limited strike against the Syrian government. It has denied
launching the attack, insisting along with its ally Russia that the
attack was launched by the rebels to drag the U.S. into war.
said after Monday's talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem
that U.N. chemical weapons experts should complete their probe and
present their findings to the U.N. Security Council.
"We have agreed to push for the soonest return of inspectors," Lavrov said.
said his government was ready to host the U.N. team, and insisted that
Syria is ready to use all channels to convince the Americans that it
wasn't behind the attack.
He added that Syria was ready for "full cooperation with Russia to remove any pretext for aggression."
Neither minister, however, offered any evidence to back their claim of rebel involvement in the chemical attack.
said that Russia will continue to promote a peaceful settlement and may
try to convene a gathering of all Syrian opposition figures to join in
negotiations. He added that a U.S. attack on Syria would deal a fatal
blow to peace efforts.
Lavrov wouldn't say how Russia could
respond to a possible U.S. attack on Syria, saying that "we wouldn't
like to proceed from a negative scenario and would primarily take
efforts to prevent a military intervention."
Putin said that Moscow would keep providing assistance to Syria in case
of U.S. attack, but he and other Russian officials have made clear that
Russia has no intention to engage in hostilities.
denied allegations that Russia may have sponsored a deal between the
U.S. and Syria during the Group of 20 summit in St.Petersburg last week,
where Putin discussed the Syrian crisis with Obama.
"There won't be and there can't be any deal behind the back of the Syrian people," Lavrov said.