Lugar urges U.S. and Russia to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria

Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) is urging the United States to team with Russia to eliminate the stockpile of chemical weapons in Syria.

Lugar has long been a leading proponent of joint efforts by the United States and Russia to reduce their arsenals of nuclear and chemical weapons, the New York Times reports.

Last month, the Syrian government threatened to deploy chemical weapons in response to any foreign attack, marking the first official confirmation that the country had such weapons.

Russia is currently resisting entreaties by the United States and other countries to authorize more forceful intervention in Syria, which has been engaged in a civil war for 17 months.

Lugar said on Tuesday that his idea was initially rebuffed by Russian officials who said that Syria had never signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, which was an agreement signed by 188 countries to eliminate such arms.

"The initial response was that Syria was not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention - which is true - and we, that is, the United States and Russia, do not own these weapons, and that's true," Lugar said, the New York Times reports. "But it's also true that it's not really clear in the course of events who is going to own them, if anybody; who will be responsible; whether any party really will be a part of the convention."

Lugar added that most countries see the weapons in Syria "as influencing very adversely the potential for peace and stability in the Middle East," according to the New York Times.