OPCW must be enabled to ‘dismantle’ Syria’s toxic arms: France  

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THE HAGUE, April 16 (AFP): Priority must be given to boosting the work of the world’s chemical arms watchdog so it can dismantle Syria’s “secret” toxic weapons programme, the French ambassador said on Monday.

“The priority today is to give the technical secretariat the means to complete the dismantling of the Syrian programme,” Phillipe Lalliot told emergency talks of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Following the recent attacks “we all know, Syria has maintained a secret chemical programme since 2013,” the ambassador added, referring to the year when Syria finally joined the OPCW and admitted to stockpiling toxic arms.

Meanwhile, Moscow vowed on Monday to not interfere in the work of a fact-finding mission sent to Syria by the global chemical arms watchdog to probe an alleged poison gas attack in Douma.

“Russia confirms its commitment to ensure safe (sic) and security of the mission and will not interfere in its work,” the Russian embassy in The Hague said in a tweet.

It also slammed the United States, saying the weekend strikes by the US, France and Britain on three facilities in Syria were a bid “to undermine the credibility” of the mission.

Russia made its comments as the OPWC opened emergency talks behind closed doors today to discuss the April 7 alleged attack in Douma where 40 people were said to have been killed.

The OPCW has 192 members, and Monday’s governing executive council meeting of 41 states was called by its chairman, Bangladeshi ambassador Sheikh Mohammed Belal, “to discuss the alleged use of chemical weapons” in Syria.

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