|U.S., Russia reach deal on Syria’s chemical weapons||
The United States and Russia reached agreement Saturday on a framework to secure Syria's chemical weapons after days of intense negotiations in Geneva.
The two sides agreed on Saturday on a proposal to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, averting the possibility of any immediate U.S. military action against President Bashar al-Assad's government.
According to Reuters, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the agreement after nearly three days of talks in Geneva.
Kerry said that under the pact, Syria must submit a "comprehensive listing" of its chemical weapons stockpiles within one week.
He told a news conference with Lavrov that U.N. weapons inspectors must be on the ground in Syria no later than November. The goal, he said, was the complete destruction of Syria's chemical weapons by the middle of 2014.
Kerry said that if Syria did not comply with the agreement, which must be finalized by the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, it would face consequences under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, the part that covers sanctions and military action.
There was no agreement on what those measures would be. U.S. President Barack Obama reserves the right to use military force in Syria, Kerry said.
"There's no diminution of options," Kerry said.
Lavrov said of the agreement: "There (is) nothing said about the use of force and not about any automatic sanctions."
In Istanbul, the head of the opposition Syrian Supreme Military Council, General Selim Idris, said the rebels regarded the deal as a blow to their struggle to oust Assad. But they would cooperate to facilitate the work of any international inspectors on the ground, he told Reuters.
But another military council official, Qassim Saadeddine, said the opposite.
"Let the Kerry-Lavrov plan go to hell. We reject it and we will not protect the inspectors or let them enter Syria."
The US-Russia deal could also pave the way for the resumption of peace talks to end the civil war, now in its third year. More than 100,000 people have been killed, and millions have fled to other countries or to safer areas within Syria.
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