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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN officials accept Syria’s invitation for talks on chemical weapons probe

11 July 2013 – The United Nations disarmament chief and the head of the team probing the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria have accepted the Government’s invitation to visit Damascus for talks on carrying out the investigation.

The announcement came after a meeting at UN Headquarters on Wednesday between Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Åke Sellström, the head of the UN fact-finding mission set up in March to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict.

A read-out of the meeting stated that Mr. Sellström and Angela Kane, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, have agreed to accept the Syrian Government’s invitation to visit Damascus with a view to completing the consultations on the modalities of cooperation required for the proper, safe and efficient conduct of the investigation.

The focus of the mission, set up following a formal request from the Syrian Government, will be an incident involving the alleged use of chemical weapons in Kfar Dael region in Khan Al-Asal area in Aleppo governorate.

The Secretary-General had repeatedly called on Damascus to grant the team access to the country so that it can carry out an on-the-ground investigation into the allegations.

Mr. Sellström provided Mr. Ban with an oral update on the mission’s off-site activities, which included the analysis of information received from Member States and fact-finding activities in a neighbouring country.

Since fighting began in March 2011 between the Syrian Government and opposition groups seeking to oust President Bashar Al-Assad as many as 100,000 people have been killed, almost 2 million have fled to neighbouring countries and a further 4 million have been internally displaced.

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