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China offers help in destroying Syria's chemical weapons

Sept. 23, 2013 at 11:50 PM   |   Comments

BEIJING, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- China is ready to help with the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, its Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Spokesman Hong Lei said China is ready to send its experts to help in the destruction of the weapons if asked by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an international watchdog to whom Syria has submitted its list of chemical weapons, China Daily reported.

Describing Syria's submission as "one more positive measure," Hong said, "Regarding the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, China will support the OPCW's work as before, including sending experts to participate in the action at the request of the organization."

He said China has consistently supported the watchdog's work and provided chemical-weapons inspectors to the organization.

Li Shaoxian, a Middle East studies researcher at China Institutes of Contemporary Relations, told China Daily if the Syrian situation worsens in the meantime and the opposition gains enough strength, "Washington might find an excuse at any time to launch an attack on the Syrian government."

In an interview with China's state television CCTV aired Monday, Syrian President Bashar Assad said his regime will only negotiate with an opposition that conducts "political activities rather than terrorism" and that there will be no negotiations with those who support outside military or political intervention.

Assad also was quoted as saying the government now needs to facilitate the work of the U.N. inspectors, who will visit the production facilities and storage sites for the chemical weapons in the coming month, adding the "only obstacle is the security conditions in some areas, which will make it difficult for the inspectors to enter."

Assad said Syria's chemical weapons "are stored at safe places that are totally controlled by the Syrian army."

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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