In the country’s first response to the U.S.-Russia deal on Syria, a Syrian minister has declared the agreement a "victory" for his country and thanked Russia for orchestrating a chemical weapons deal to avert U.S. military action, Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported.
"We welcome these agreements. On the one hand, they will help Syrians come out of the crisis, and on the other hand, they prevented the war against Syria by having removed a pretext for those who wanted to unleash it," National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar was quoted as saying on Sunday.
"This deal is the result of Russian diplomacy and the Russian leadership. It's a victory for Syria that was achieved thanks to our Russian friends," he said.
Haidar, speaking in Damascus, said the framework agreement would prepare the ground for peace talks between President Bashar al-Assad's government and the rebels.
The deal "provides international support for all the representatives of the Syrian people to sit down at one table and to resolve their internal problems at the next stage," he said.
Haidar said that the deal "gives the opportunity to solve in the future all the problems of Syria, not only the problem of chemical weapons".
It was the first Syrian reaction to the deal U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov clinched in Geneva on Saturday, under which Syria has a week to submit a list of its chemical weapons stocks and hand all of them over for destruction by mid-2014.
The two sides agreed that the UN Security Council, where Russia holds the right to veto any initiative, would take unspecified action if Syria violated the terms of the international convention banning chemical weapons.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he hoped the deal would result in the "complete destruction" of the arsenal and push the world to stop Iran from nuclear weapons armament. Netanyahu spoke before a planned meeting with Kerry, who has arrived in Israel to brief him on the accord, Al Jazeera reported.
U.S. president Barack Obama said that if the Assad government does not live up to the deal, "the United States remains prepared to act".
In a separate interview with ABC's "This week", Obama said Russian President Vladimir Putin does not share U.S. "values" in Syria, and that Putin is protecting Assad, a leader the U.S. has said needs to leave power.
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