POLITICS

John Baird: Canada Must Ensure Syria Chemical Weapons Plan Not A 'Delay Tactic'

09/10/2013 05:34 EDT | Updated 09/10/2013 05:38 EDT
AP

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada must ensure Russia's proposal to put Syrian chemical weapons under international control is not "merely a delay tactic."

“Actions will speak louder than words," Baird said in an emailed statement to the Huffington Post.

"Canada will wait to see what the particulars are for securing and destroying the entirety of the Assad regime's stockpiles of chemical weapons immediately."

The Syrian government has agreed to hand over its chemical weapons arsenal and sign the chemical weapons convention prohibiting their use, but Russia has said the U.S. must call off any potential strike plans for that proposal to work.

But Baird maintains Canada sees a political resolution as the best option to end the bloodbath in Syria, which has left more than 100,000 dead and sparked a refugee exodus to neighbouring Arab states.

“As we've said from the beginning, the only way to halt the bloodshed in Syria is through a political solution," Baird said, although he and Harper have been zealous in their support of U.S. President Barack Obama's calls for a military strike on the ravaged country.

The minister added that the government remains skeptical of Assad's regime, saying that trusting it "to comply with any commitment after years of deceit would be a challenge."

“Destroying these chemical weapons which the regime has denied even having for years, would be in the best interest of the entire region and all Syrians," he added.

Canada will follow events at the United Nations Security Council closely, Baird said.

At 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, Obama will deliver a speech discussing the situation in Syria, his on-going efforts to convince Congress on a military intervention and his administration's response to the Russian proposal.

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