Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday that Syria giving chemical weapons to international control would be an “important step.” Clinton was speaking at the White House at a forum on combating wildlife trafficking.
“The Assad regime’s inhuman use of weapons of mass destruction against innocent men, women, and children violates a universal norm at the heart of our global order. And therefore, it demands a strong response from the international community, led by the United States,” Clinton said. “Second, the international community cannot ignore the ongoing threat from the Assad regime’s stock piles of chemical weapons. Whether they are used again against Syrian civilians or transferred to Hezbollah or stolen by other terrorists. This is about protecting both the syrian people and our friends in the region. The world will have to deal with this threat as swiftly and comprehensively as possible.”
Clinton went on, discussing a possible deal proposed by current Secretary of State John Kerry in which Syria turned over its chemical weapons stockpiles to international control as an “important step” adding it could be used as excuse to delay a possible Syria solution.
“Now, if the regime immediately surrendered its stockpiles to international control, as was suggested by Secretary Kerry and the Russians, that would be an important step,” Clinton said. “But this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction and Russia has to support the international community’s efforts sincerely or be held to account.”
Clinton said such a discussion could only take place in the context of threatened U.S. military action against Syria.
“It is very important to note that this discussion that has taken hold today about potential international control over syria’s stockpiles only could take place in the context of a credibility military threat by the United States to keep pressure on the Syrian government as well as those supporting Syria like Russia.”
Kerry said in London Monday that Syrian Preisdent Bashar al-Assad could avoid a U.S. attack by “turning over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week — turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting.”
The Russian foreign minister subsequently made that offer to Syria, and the Syrian foreign minister reportedly welcomed the idea. Since then, the State Department has tried to walk back Kerry’s statement, with spokeswoman Marie Harf calling it a “rhetorical statement about a scenario that we think is highly unlikely” at a press briefing.
Clinton concluded her remarks by calling the conflict a “threat to regional stability” and a “humanitarian catastrophe,” saying she would continue to support President Obama on Syria.
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