Chemical Weapons Watchdog Chief to Visit Russia – Lavrov

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The chief of the world's chemical arms watchdog is due to visit Russia in April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.

THE HAGUE, March 24 (RIA Novosti) – The chief of the world's chemical arms watchdog is due to visit Russia in April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said last week almost half of Syria's declared stockpile of chemical weapons had been removed from the country. Under an international agreement, the deadline for completing the destruction the last of the weapons is June 30.

During talks in The Hague, Lavrov said the country was awaiting the visit of OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu. In his turn, Uzumcu praised the role of Russia and the US in eliminating Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons.

Under a September deal brokered by Moscow and Washington, Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons by the middle of this year. The agreement allowed the Syrian government to stave off the threat of a US air strike.

Syria said the original deadline to remove the highest priority stockpiles, set for December 31, was missed because of security concerns, technical issues and poor weather conditions in the Middle Eastern country.

Lavrov said the deadline for removing the chemicals by mid-year was realistic.

More than 130,000 people have been killed and 9 million displaced since fighting broke out in Syria between government troops and armed rebels in 2011, according to the UN.

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