MUNICH, February 2 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that the Syrian authorities keep chemical weapons under control and spoke against the removal of President Bashar al-Assad.
“We have reliable information that so far the Syrian government controls the situation” with the chemical weapons, Lavrov said Saturday at the International Security Conference in Munich. “If the rebels seize those weapons, they will become a huge threat. But still, the situation doesn’t give any grounds for serious worries,” he added.
Syria has not signed the international Chemical Weapons Convention and is believed to possess mustard gas and sarin, an extremely toxic nerve agent. The CIA says Syria has had a chemical weapons program “for years” and that the weapons can be “delivered by aircraft, ballistic missile, and artillery rockets. Syria said this summer that they could be used against “foreign invaders.”
Lavrov reiterated that Russia’s stance against any foreign interference in the two-year civil war in Syria and a removal of its incumbent president bound in a standoff with the oppostion. “The persistence of those who say that number one priority is to remove Assad is the only biggest reason for the continuing tragedy in Syria,” said Lavrov.
While US Vice President Joseph Biden said Washington has remained “convinced that President Assad, a tyrant hell-bent on clinging to power, is no longer fit to lead Syrian people and he must go,” Reuters reported.
Lavrov is also expected to meet with Biden for a round of talks on Saturday to discuss the Syrian conflict. The two are expected to share views on cooperation in nuclear arms reduction, as well as economic and trade issues. During the three-day forum Lavrov is also expected to meet with other officials, including the UN and Arab League special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.