Kaag says substantial work needed in Syrian mission

While recent progress was made, substantial work is needed in the effort to rid Syria of its chemical weapons, Sigrid Kaag, the special coordinator of the OPCW-U.N. Joint Mission said on Friday.

Kaag made the remarks as part of a statement delivered to the 34th meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons' Executive Council. Kaag reported on the progress of the operational planning group after a recent meeting in The Hague. She said the participants worked to determine a consensus that would allow the joint mission to meet its ambitious deadlines.

Kaag said she is coordinating with officials in Damascus, Washington, New York and Moscow and addressing the concerns of Member States regarding the safety, security and mission logistics related to joint mission activities.

"I was able to flag a number of key concerns for the joint mission and also to communicate the progress we have made," Kaag said. "I have also had the opportunity to continue these conversations in my meetings with delegations here in The Hague, and have conveyed emerging issues for the attention of the (OPCW Director-General Ahmet uzumcu) and (U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon)."

Kaag said the joint mission will be flexible and responsive to developments on the ground in Syria in an effort to meet its June 30 deadline to complete the mission's mandate.

"Now that the joint mission offices are fully established, we look forward to remaining in close contact with Member States, and I remain available for consultations on any issue as it arises," Kaag said.