BEIJING, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- The international community hailed the progress on the Syria issue, after the United States and Russia reached a framework agreement Saturday on eliminating the country's chemical weapons.
According to the framework reached in the Switzerland city, Geneva, Syria must submit a "comprehensive listing" of its chemical weapons stockpiles in one week, international inspectors must be on the ground in Syria by November and destruction or removal of the chemical weapons must be completed by mid-2014.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Saturday welcomed the agreement saying he "welcomes the news that Russian Federation Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have reached an understanding regarding the safeguarding and destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles."
U.S. President Barack Obama said the deal represents "an important, concrete step toward the goal of moving Syria's chemical weapons under international control so that they may ultimately be destroyed," in a statement released by the White House. He also warned that the country remains to act if diplomacy fails.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius described the agreement as an important step forward in a statement, adding that talks with his U.S. and British counterparts scheduled on Monday in Paris would focus on its implementation.
"The international community has a responsibility to make sure that the long-standing norm and practice against the use of chemical weapons is maintained, and violators are held accountable," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement welcoming the deal.
William Hague, Britain's foreign secretary, saw the Saturday development as "a significant step forward." German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle believed the chances of a political solution will rise greatly if the deal is to be followed.
Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro has lauded as smart the Russian proposal.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Friday said that China supports a political and diplomatic resolution of the Syrian chemical weapon issue in order to give peace a chance, when asked to comment on the talks between the U.S. and Russia.
However, the Syrian opposition rejected the agreement minutes after its declaration and refused to declare a ceasefire with the government amid the welcoming voices of the international society.
"As the regime already started to deploy the chemical weapons in Lebanon and Iraq, it is impossible for us to accept the destruction of the chemical weapons in 2014," said Salim Idris, general of the rebel Free Syrian Army.
As for the transference, the Iraqi government on Saturday rejected Idris's claim saying it was "an attempt to tarnish the image of Iraq," and "we deny such news in all details."
Syria has applied for joining the Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlaws the production, possession and use of chemical weapons, and the UN confirmed Saturday receiving the treaty papers from Syria and its membership will take effect on Oct. 14.
The Syria chemical crisis started on Aug. 21, when the opposition accused government troops of gassing some 1,400 people in the suburbs of Damascus. The Syrian government denied the accusation, claiming that the opposition was behind the attack.
The United States blamed the Syrian government for the attack and had sought to resort to a military action against Syria.
But a turning point arose as Russia recently proposed to put Syria's chemical arms under international control as a way to avert a looming U.S. military strike.