UN’s Ban skeptical Assad will keep chemical arms deal

UNITED NATIONS: UN leader Ban Ki-moon said Friday he shares international doubts that Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad will respect an international deal on his country’s chemical weapons.

A Russian plan to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control and an application by Damascus to join the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention have eased fears of a US military strike.

“President Assad has seemingly positively responded” to Russia-US talks on ending the crisis, in part by applying to join the convention, Ban told the France 24 television news channel in an interview.

“That is positive, but at the same time I sense in the international community some sense of skepticism.”

“Yes, I also share” the doubts, he added.

“It is important for Syrian authorities to make sincere and faithful implementation of what they have said to prove that they are, (and) President Assad is, sincere,” the UN secretary general added.

The United States and its allies have expressed doubts about Assad’s intentions and called for guarantees that international action be taken if the Syrian government fails to hold up its end of the deal.

Ban gave the interview after saying he believed that a UN expert report would next week give “overwhelming” confirmation that chemical weapons have been used in Syria.

UN inspectors are expected to give their report on a suspected sarin attack near Damascus on August 21 to Ban on Monday.