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Syria welcomes Russian proposal to hand over chemical weapons to avoid US air strikes

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Syria welcomes Russian proposal to hand over chemical weapons to avoid US air strikes

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Syria has welcomed Russia’s suggestion it should put its chemical weapons under international control – a move designed to avoid possible US air strikes.

It comes after US secretary of state John Kerry said in London this was the only way Syria could avoid military intervention.

Walid al-Moallem, Syria’s foreign minister, gave a warm reception to Russia’s proposal, but stopped short of outlining any concrete action.

He said: “I am announcing the Syrian Arab Republic welcomed the Russian initiative, to preserve the life of our citizens and security of our country.”

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, said the suggestion came after a summit with his Syrian counterpart.

He added: “The talks were already over when news came of John Kerry’s speech in which he said that strikes on Syria could only be avoided if Damascus handed over all its chemical weapons to the international community.

“If the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in that country would allow avoiding strikes, we will immediately start working with Damascus.”