- The Washington Times - Friday, September 13, 2013

As U.S. and Russian negotiators met for a second day on ridding Syria of its chemical weapons, President Obama said Friday that any agreement must be “enforceable.”

Mr. Obama told reporters during an Oval Office meeting with the Amir of Kuwait that he hopes the negotiations “bear fruit.”

“But I repeated what I’ve said publicly, that any agreement has to be verifiable and enforceable,” the president said.

In Geneva, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said prospects for restarting peace talks in Syria’s civil war depend on the outcome of the negotiations for the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad to give up its chemical weapons.

Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lavrov met with UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi about the potential for a new Geneva peace conference. Nearby, American and Russian chemical weapons experts haggled over technical details critical to a deal on chemical weapons.

Mr. Obama said Syria’s sarin gas attack near Damascus on Aug. 21 was “a criminal act.”

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“It is absolutely important for the international community to respond, not only deterring repeated use of chemical weapons, but hopefully getting those chemical weapons outside of Syria,” Mr. Obama said, adding that a political settlement was necessary to end the civil war.

Mr. Kerry said the negotiators have agreed to meet around Sept. 28 on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly high-level meetings in New York to discuss renewed peace talks for Syria.

But, he said, the future of peace negotiations depends on the outcome of the weapons talks.

“We are committed to try to work together, beginning with this initiative on the chemical weapons, in hopes that those efforts could pay off and bring peace and stability to a war-torn part of the world,” Mr. Kerry said.

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