Lieberman praises US-Russian deal on Syria's chemicals

Ahram Online , Sunday 15 Sep 2013

Israeli right-winger says he is happy with arrangement over Syrian chemical weapons, but warns Assad could be trying to 'buy time'

Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Avigdor Lieberman (Photo: AP)

Avigdor Lieberman, the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, described the US-Russian deal over Syria's chemical weapons as an "arrangement that is good for Israel," Israel's Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday.

The test of the deal's effectiveness "will be in its implementation," and the whole situation depends on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, the newspaper quoted the ex-foreign minister as telling Army Radio.

"The test has been performed, and Assad has a very problematic record in every subject of reliability and good intentions," he added.

According to the Associated Press, the leader of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party pointed out that Damascus could use the Russian-proposed deal to "buy time."

Lieberman says Syria is likely stalling, as Iran allegedly did during early nuclear negotiations when faced with an offer to transfer enriched uranium stockpiles abroad.

Israeli President Shimon Peres warned on Monday that negotiations over a weapons transfer would be "tough" and that Syria is "not trustworthy."

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demanded on Saturday that Al-Assad account for his secret stockpile within a week and allow international inspectors to eliminate all the weapons by the middle of 2014.

China, a strong international ally of the Syria regime, welcomed the agreement that was concluded following three days of talks in Geneva between Kerry and Lavrov.

France has called the deal to destroy the arsenal an "important step forward" and said that talks on Monday in Paris would focus on implementation, Reuters reported.

In a related development, UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday said he expected UN experts would confirm chemical weapons had been used in the Damascus attack on 21 August, according to AFP.

"I believe the report will be an overwhelming report that the chemical weapons were used," said Ban, who also launched a new outspoken attack on Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad.

Ban also gave a UN estimate that 1,400 people were killed in the attack which led to western threats of a military strike on Assad's forces.

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