NATO, Russia could assist in elimination of Syria's chemical weapons
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says that he expects NATO allies and Russia will assist in the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile if the UN makes the request.
Speaking at a meeting of NATO and Russian defense ministers in Brussels on Wednesday, Rasmussen acknowledged a request by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to help the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons with its task, adding that NATO allies and Russia could assist either on an individual national basis or collectively.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he also saw a possible role for NATO, saying that Russia and NATO have many areas of common interest, including the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles.
He stressed, however, that there were "no plans to have any U.S. forces" in Syria.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russia "will consider and will be ready to discuss any UN request to help deal with the Syrian weapons."
A team of international experts has been in Syria since early October to destroy an estimated 1-thousand tons chemical weapons before a deadline of mid-2014.
And in a related development, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister and Envoy to the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov said that Syrian authorities have confirmed their intent to participate in the Geneva II conference on ending the war in Syria in November.
The Syrian opposition has said that it will only participate in the talks if the goal is to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.