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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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Kerry, Lavrov: Syria to Give Up the Stash in 1 Week—Maybe

John Kerry's remarks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after their meeting, at the Intercontinental Hotel, Geneva, Switzerland, September 14, 2013.
Secretary Kerry shaking hands with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov (sitting), after the two have finalized an agreement on Syria in Geneva, Switzerland, September 14, 2013.

Secretary Kerry shaking hands with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov (sitting), after the two have finalized an agreement on Syria in Geneva, Switzerland, September 14, 2013.
Photo Credit: Dept. of State

Secretary Kerry: Let me just say that we have agreed, as you will see in the documents, on a basic assessment of the numbers and types and locations – we have agreed between us, and that’s a very important point here. Because we expect the Assad regime, obviously, in its declaration, to show the candor that we have shown in reaching that agreement.

With respect to the issue of destruction, there is a clause in which we agreed that we will contribute resources, including finance to some degree. We have a certain amount of budget for this kind of purpose. And we will seek, in the process of the UN and in the effort to have a global commitment to this, help from many other of our international partners. But we’re convinced the urgency of this will be a test for the international community’s commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention and to the importance of restraining chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction…

Foreign Minister Lavrov: (Via interpreter) As far as who is going to pay, I think that you heard that there were countries who were ready to pay for the war, and I’m sure that there will be such countries, perhaps not the same countries, who will be ready to finance the peaceful solution of the problem.

Moderator: The next question will be from David Lerman of Bloomberg.

Secretary Kerry: We’re going to send Sergey to talk to them and make that arrangement. (Laughter.)

Question: David Lerman from Bloomberg. Sir, just five days ago in London, when you first floated this idea publicly, you seemed to dismiss it at the time by saying Assad would never do it and, quote, “It can’t be done, obviously.” My question, sir, is how did the impossible suddenly become possible? And why is it credible to think that you can send these inspectors in on the ground in the middle of a civil war?

Secretary Kerry: Sure.

Question: And, as a practical matter, if you really want to get thorough, verifiable inspections in all corners of the country, don’t you have to stop the fighting first?

Secretary Kerry: Let me answer both questions. I purposefully made the statements that I made in London, and I did indeed say it was impossible and he won’t do it, even as I hoped it would be possible and wanted him to do it. And the language of diplomacy sometimes requires that you put things to the test, and we did.

Sergey and I have been talking even three days before that about this very concept. We had two phone calls on the Thursday and Friday before it. And I got a phone call very quickly from Sergey saying let’s see if we can take this and move, and he talked to his president and they talked – our presidents talked in St. Petersburg, and the rest is history. We’re here.

So, obviously, I would hope and always hoped that we could have removed those weapons, and we wanted to. But we didn’t know whether or not this could be given the kind of life it has been given in the last 48 hours. So, it just didn’t make sense to raise a concept that hadn’t yet been put to the test or agreed upon or worked through. I’m pleased that President Putin took initiative, and Sergey took initiative, and President Obama responded, and we’re here.

And so the question is, “So where do we go from here, and how do we build on this,” which I think is really critical. Now, how do you do this, quote, “in a time of war”? Well, look, this is logical. One of the reasons that we believe this is achievable is because the Assad regime has taken extraordinary pains in order to keep control of these weapons. And they have moved them, and we know they’ve moved them. We’ve seen them move them. We watched this. And so we know they’ve continued to always move them to a place of more control.

Therefore, since these weapons are in areas under regime control predominantly, Sergey raises questions that maybe the opposition has some here or there, and absolutely, fair is fair. Both sides have to be responsible. If they do, that also – and that may present a larger challenge. But those of us who have been supporting the opposition have a responsibility to help create access there, and the regime has responsibility where we believe the – the measure – in fact, we believe the only weapons are – ought to be accessible because the Assad regime controls the access.

Jewish Press Staff

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