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Chinese frigate escorting Syria chemical weapons out of country

  |   Jan. 7, 2014 at 11:22 PM
BEIJING, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- China announced its frigate Yancheng commenced escorting a Danish vessel transporting Syria's chemical weapons out of the country for eventual destruction.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Yancheng's mission began Tuesday in close coordination with naval vessels from Russia, Denmark and Norway, Xinhua News Agency reported.

A ministry news release said China's participation is part of a multilateral coordination operation in response to appeals from the United Nations Security Council and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The Danish vessel that took the chemical weapons from two sites in Syria left western Syrian port Latakia Tuesday, the chemical weapons organization said.

The chemicals will eventually be delivered to an American vessel for destruction. The deadline for destroying Syria's entire chemical weapons program is June 30.

Sigrid Kaag, special coordinator of the joint mission of the chemical weapons organization and the United Nations, said in a statement the first quantity of the priority chemical materials was moved to the port of Lattakia for verification and was then loaded onto the Danish commercial vessel.

"This movement initiates the process of transfer of chemical materials from the Syrian Arab Republic to locations outside its territory for destruction," the statement said.

Earlier reports said the American naval vessel, which will neutralize the chemicals in the weapons, remains on standby in the Atlantic Ocean.

The previous deadline of Dec. 31 to ship the chemicals from Syria could not be met due to weather and the volatility in the overall security situation in Syria.

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