UK: Syria weapons deal must identify, secure all arms

Reuters
British Foreign Secretary William Hague addresses media conference in Cape Town
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British Foreign Secretary William Hague addresses a media conference in Cape Town, September 10, 2013. …

LONDON (Reuters) - British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Thursday any deal to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control had to be enforceable and ensure the arsenal did not fall into the wrong hands.

"The United Kingdom will make every effort to negotiate an enforceable agreement that credibly, reliably and promptly places the regime's chemical weapons stock under international control for destruction," Hague told parliament.

"We will need to have confidence that all chemical weapons have been identified and secured and that they would not fall into the wrong hands," he added.

Hague was speaking as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew into Geneva to hear Russia's plan to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control, an initiative that has transformed diplomacy over a two-and-a-half year old civil war.

Hague said Britain supported the idea in principle, but warned there would be "immense practical difficulties" in properly implementing such an initiative.

The United States' decision to consider military action against Syria and growing evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind a chemical weapons attack helped persuade Russia to change its stance towards its ally in the Middle East, Hague added.

(Reporting by Peter Griffiths; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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