Assad oks chemical weapons treaty, talks in Geneva continue

Kerry rejects Assad’s demands, continues Syria talks in Geneva

Swiss artist Hans Erni's peace freso, on the front wall of the United Nations European headquarters

Swiss artist Hans Erni’s peace freso, on the front wall of the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Thursday at the UN in Geneva was a day of greater optimism than has been seen in months, over finding a solution to Syria’s fighting and its fallout. President Assad of Syria issued a statement that a legislative order has been given to accept the UN’s chemical weapons treaty, and foreign ministers of the US and Russia appeared on friendly terms, joking readily at a press conference.

But the two countries remain at odds on a number of issues, starting with who, exactly, is using chemical weapons in Syria. Both agree there is now clear evidence they have been used, but while Russia insists publicly that it is the opposition fighters, the US points the finger directly at Assad’s government for using deadly sarin.

Assad’s statement about the treaty was accompanied by demands the US withdraw its threats of military action, which Secretary of State John Kerry quickly rebuffed.

The Russian-US ministers are also meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi, who is the UN Envoy for Syria, but who also represents the Arab League. Reuters reports that “he has been trying to broker a political solution to the Syrian civil war. The two powers are trying to flesh out Moscow’s plan to dispose of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons”.

A selection of key stories from world media on the Syria announcement and US-Russian talks in Geneva:

  • “The Shortest Path to Peace in Syria”, recommending Webster University professor’s 2006 book, by Nicola Nasser, OpEd News
  • “UN confirms Syria’s Assad signed chemical weapons decree”, Aljazeera
  • “High-stakes U.S.-Russian talks open, Syria to join chemical arms ban”, Reuters
  • John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov meet UN Syrian envoy”, Financial Times
  • “Syria’s Bid to Join UN Treaty Makes US Strike Redundant – Lavrov”, Ria Novosti