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Chinese UN envoy: Dialogue, cooperation right way to resolve Syrian chemical file

In this file picture, a UN chemical arms expert inspects a site near the Syrian capital city of Damascus. (By AFP)

China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations has described dialogue and cooperation as the most appropriate and viable path to resolving the Syrian chemical file.

Geng Shuang told a UN Security Council session on Monday that the establishment of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) “goes beyond the scope of” the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and China, along with many other countries, has expressed concern over the matter.

The IIT was established under a decision of the international chemical weapons watchdog Conference of the States Parties on June 27, 2018, and is responsible to identify and report on all information potentially relevant to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Geng added that the working methods and procedures of the IIT have failed to meet the requirements of the CWC and its annex on verification, and have raised numerous questions accordingly.

“We hope that the Technical Secretariat will adhere to the technical nature, uphold the spirit of impartiality, objectivity and independence in performing its duty and facilitate a return of attribution to the framework of the convention,” the Chinese envoy said.

Geng noted, “China stands firm in opposing the use of chemical weapons by any country, organization or individual under any circumstances or for any purpose, and hopes that our world will soon be freed of all chemical weapons.”

“We urge the countries in possession of chemical weapons to destroy all chemical weapons as soon as possible,” he said.

At the same session, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Bassam Sabbagh said some countries still continue to politicize the Syrian chemical file and make unsubstantiated allegations against Damascus, stressing that it will be impossible to resolve the matter in a professional and impartial manner unless such states change their destructive agendas.

Sabbagh stated that the Damascus government vehemently opposes the use of chemical weapons under any circumstances, has voluntarily joined the Chemical Weapons Convention and fulfilled its obligations under the treaty, and is eager to cooperate with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to close its file as soon as possible.

Echoing Syria’s stance, Russia also criticized the politicization of the OPCW, saying the Syrian chemical dossier had long ceased to have anything to do with the issue of non‑proliferation of chemical weapons.

The Western media and governments have repeatedly accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against its own citizens in the war against terrorists.

This is while Syria surrendered its stockpile of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the United States and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry. It has also consistently denied using chemical weapons.

On April 14, 2018, the US, Britain, and France carried out a string of airstrikes against Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack on the city of Douma.

That alleged attack was reported by the so-called civil defense group White Helmets, which published videos showing them purportedly treating survivors.

The White Helmets group, which claims to be a humanitarian NGO, is known for its coordination with terror outfits in Syria to carry out staged chemical attacks in order to incriminate Syrian government forces and fabricate pretexts for military strikes by a US-led military coalition present in Syria since 2014.

Washington and its allies blamed Damascus for the Douma attack, an allegation strongly rejected by the Syrian government.

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