WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- The United States said on Thursday the Syrian government's application for joining the Chemical Weapons Convention is "important," but cannot be a substitute for the verification and ultimate destroying of those weapons.
State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said at a press briefing that she has taken note of reports that Syria has started the process of joining the UN Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The OPCW is the implementing authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention, a multilateral pact that bars countries that are party to it from developing, producing, stockpiling, acquiring, transferring or retaining such weapons.
"We believe that clearly we think the Chemical Weapons Convention is an important thing that we're a part of, but that would not be a substitute for working with us and the Russians to verify and ultimately destroy their stockpile," Harf said.
Secretary of State John Kerry opened talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov earlier in the day in Geneva on putting Syrian chemical weapons under international control.
Harf said Kerry was "seeking tangible commitments that the Russians are interested in achieving a strong, credible and enforceable agreement to rapidly identify, verify, secure and ultimately destroy (Syrian President Bashar) Assad's chemical weapons stockpile."
U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday evening embraced a Russian proposal to put Syrian chemical weapons under international control, after arguing for weeks that United States should use military force to punish Syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons in the country's conflict.