Ban welcomes Syria's letter banning chemical weapons

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon received a letter from the Syrian government on Thursday informing him that President Bashar al-Assad plans to sign an international treaty to ban chemical weapons.

The letter said that Assad signed a legislative decree that provides for the accession of Syria to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction of 1992. The letter also expressed a commitment by Syrian authorities to observing the obligations entailed by the treaty before it enters into force in Syria.

"The secretary-general welcomes this development," Ban's spokesperson said. "Given recent events, he hopes that the current talks in Geneva will lead to speedy agreement on a way forward which will be endorsed and assisted by the international community."

The letter came after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva earlier on Thursday for additional talks on Syria. Russia proposed that Damascus can surrender its chemical weapons and put them under international control.

U.N. officials were also working around the clock to secure a rapid result on the probe of chemical weapons use on August 21. The results of the analysis will be shared with Ban, who will then share them with the Security Council and all 193 Member States.