Cairo, April 17 (Reuters): Syria said today it would not allow arms inspections, but would join forces with the world to rid all of West Asia of weapons of mass destruction in line with its recent proposal to the UN.
Washington accuses Syria of developing chemical weapons, a charge the Arab state denies. Asked by reporters in Cairo whether Syria would allow inspections, foreign minister Farouq al-Shara said: “No. After this Syrian proposal (at the UN) Syria won’t allow any inspection. It will only participate with its (Arab) brothers and all states of the world in turning West Asia into an area free of weapons of mass destruction.”
It was not immediately clear if the remarks were a departure from Syria’s previously stated position that it would only allow weapons inspections if they applied to all regional states, including Israel, which is widely believed to have nuclear arms.
A ministry spokesman in Damascus declined to expand on Shara’s comments. Syria asked the 15-nation UN Security Council yesterday to help transform West Asia into a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. It has circulated a draft welcoming initiatives to rid the region of such arms. Syrian state radio said today the country was urging world leaders to work hard towards the “supreme goal” of a West Asia free of chemical, biological and nuclear arms.
It said the region would never know security, stability and prosperity without achieving just and comprehensive peace and eliminating such weapons.
After meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Shara said: “We think the Syrian draft resolution will remove from West Asia all these terrifying weapons.” Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Maher, speaking alongside Shara, welcome Syria’s move: “We support Syrian efforts in the Security Council with regard to weapons of mass destruction.”
Syria’s draft calls on the council to take a central role in countering the spread of mass destruction arms in the region and urges West Asian governments to ratify a series of arms control treaties.