ISTANBUL (AP) — Canada’s foreign minister John Baird is calling Syria’s offer to begin providing information on its chemical arsenal 30 days after it signs an international convention banning such weapons “ridiculous and absurd.”
Baird said Syrian President Bashar Assad could not be given extra time. Baird said: “This is a man, who up until a week ago denied that they had any such weapons.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who joined Baird at a news conference Saturday in Istanbul, also expressed skepticism, saying that Assad was playing for time while continuing to commit atrocities.
The comments come as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were in Geneva negotiating a Russian proposal to inventory, isolate and eventually destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stocks.
Kerry has rejected Syria’s suggestion that it should turn over information, rather than weapons.
Davutoglu said Turkey welcomed the diplomatic initiative to remove Syria’s chemical weapons, but it was still incumbent on the international community to bring to justice the Syrian officials responsible for crimes against humanity.
Western countries blame Assad for the use of chemical weapons, although he denies blames rebels engaged in a 2-year-old civil war against his government.