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Talks on chemical weapons probe ‘productive’ – UN and Syria jointly say

NEW YORK – The United Nations disarmament chief and the head of the team probing the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria have had “thorough and productive” discussions with the Government that led to an agreement on moving forward.

At the invitation of the Government of Syria, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane, 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, visited Damascus on 24 and 25 July.

They met with Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, and the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faisal Mekdad, to discuss the work of the Mission.

In a joint statement with the Government, the UN said “discussions were thorough and productive and led to an agreement on the way forward.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has 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.

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. In addition, at least 6.8 million Syrian require urgent humanitarian assistance.

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