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Russia ready to send observers to Syria

September 22, 2013

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia is ready to send military observers to Syria to ensure security for efforts to eliminate its chemical weapons, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

But the Russian official said his country is not considering sending a full military contingent.

Under a U.S.-Russian plan, Syria is to give up its chemical weapons. Security is one of the plan’s major challenges, including how to prevent theft of the weapons.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on state TV’s Channel One, Lavrov said Russia has proposed that there be an international presence on the perimeter of all areas where chemical weapons experts will work in Syria. “We are ready to share our servicemen and military police to participate in these forces,” but “it seems to me that military observers will be sufficient,” he said.

Although Russia and the U.S. worked together on the chemical weapons plan, Washington and Moscow remain at odds over several aspects of the Syrian crisis. The United States, along with France, have sought a U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorize the use of force, if Syria reneges on the chemical weapons agreement, but Russia opposes invoking the U.N. Charter’s Chapter 7 which would allow force.

Lavrov criticized what he called “impudent” attempts by the West to include that chapter in the resolution.

The minister said the West is unable to admit that previous military interventions, such as in Iraq and Libya, led to severe problems.

“They are primarily interested in the evidence of their own superiority . And is not the task that drives us - to solve the problem of chemical weapons in Syria,” he said.

Also Sunday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said a mortar round fired by rebels in the Syrian capital exploded on the grounds of the Russian embassy, injuring three workers. The ministry said the injuries were not life-threatening, but gave no further details.

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