MOSCOW, November 21 (Sputnik) — Iran has had a positive influence on the Syrian government concerning the elimination of chemical weapons in the country, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday.
"I think the role of the Iranian government has never been … put in question, specifically on this issue," Ryabkov said at the 2014 Moscow Nonproliferation Conference. "We, at least from Russian perspective, felt positive influences from Tehran upon the government in Damascus."
The Russian deputy foreign minister assessed the role of the Iranian government in tackling the Syrian chemical weapons problem as "rather constructive".
Speaking of chemical weapons possibly falling into the hands of terrorist and extremist groups, Ryabkov said that this issue had a very high priority for Russia, with Moscow underlining the importance of practical steps toward solving the problem.
The issue regarding the use of chemical weapons in the Middle East has drawn special attention from the international community after some 1,500 civilians became victims of a chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, in September 2013. The incident triggered worldwide condemnation and sparked talk of a US-led military intervention.
After the incident, Syria agreed to international control over its chemical weapons for further elimination. In October, the UN Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that 97.8 percent of chemicals removed from Syria earlier this year had been destroyed.