Syria chemical arms elimination agreed on by U.S., Russia
2 countries have 'a common understanding,' Russian President Vladmir Putin says
Russia and the United States agree on how to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday after meeting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
"We have a common understanding of what needs to be done and how. I am very glad that President (Barack) Obama is occupying this position (on chemical arms)," Putin told reporters at the end of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation trade summit on the Indonesian island of Bali.
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Kerry was standing in for absent U.S. President Barack Obama at the Asian economic summit.
International experts charged with starting the process of verifying and eliminating chemical weapons arrived in Syria earlier this month. Russia, Syria's long-time ally and arms supplier, has offered to assist with the demolition process.
An American official travelling with Kerry said the secretary spoke with the Russian president for about 15 minutes in a conversation that focused primarily on organizing an international conference to help Syria create a transitional government. The official said the pair agreed on the importance of organizing the conference by a mid-November target date set by the United Nations.
The official, who was not authorized to discuss the private meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Kerry also spoke briefly with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Putin said he believed experts would be able to accomplish their goal of ridding Syria of its chemical arms within a year.
The head of the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ahmet Uzumcu, said in a statement Syria had made "a constructive beginning for what will nonetheless be a long and difficult process."
The global chemical weapons watchdog said on Tuesday it would send more inspectors to Syria to help destroy President Bashar al-Assad's vast stockpile of toxic munitions.
The team of OPCW experts, supported by the United Nations, aim to oversee destruction of Syria's chemical weapons production and mixing equipment by Nov. 1 and deal with all chemical weapons materials by the end of June.
With files from The Associated Press