Ban welcomes emergence of serious discussions on Syria

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly welcomed serious international discussions this week that could result in an agreement in the U.N. Security Council to secure and neutralize Syria's chemical weapons.

Ban released a statement on Wednesday after a boost in diplomatic activity following a reported Russian proposal for Damascus to surrender its chemical weapons and put them under international control. The secretary-general praised U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to delay a vote on military action in Syria while pursuing this diplomatic route.

"The secretary-general welcomes, therefore, President Obama's decision to take time to further explore this diplomatic opportunity to achieve this crucially important objective," a U.N. spokesman said.

Obama announced on Tuesday that he would send U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Thursday for further talks. He also said he would continue discussing the plan with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"(Ban) hopes the U.S.-Russian meetings later this week will be productive in moving toward a process for addressing the Syrian chemical weapons threat which all parties will be committed to," the spokesperson said.

The U.N. Security Council has been gridlocked over a solution to the 30-month crisis in Syria.