Syria has missed a February 5 deadline to hand over its stockpile
of chemical weapons, prompting fears it could fail to fulfill on
time the plan which helped avert a U.S.-led missile strike against
President Bashar al-Assad's government.
"About these chemical weapons, I believe the process has been moving
on rather smoothly even though there have been some delays," Ban
told reporters after addressing a meeting of the International
Olympic Committee in the Russian city of Sochi.
"Our target is June 30 this year. This may be a very tight target,
but I believe that it can be done with the full support of the
Syrian government," said Ban, who will attend the opening of the
Winter Olympics in Sochi on Friday.
The agreement on the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons was
reached after a sarin gas attack near Damascus last year killed
hundreds of civilians.
Damascus blames delays in implementation of the plan on security
problems and the threat of rebel attacks as the weapons are
transported out of Syria.
The Syrian government has requested additional armor and
communications equipment but the United States and the United
Nations, which is jointly overseeing the destruction program with
the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, has said
Syria has sufficient equipment to carry out the plan.
[to top of second column]
Ban, who called for a truce in Syria during the Olympics, said he
had received promises over the plan's fulfillment from Syrian
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem last week during talks in Geneva.
"He assured me that this chemical weapons destruction process will
continue as scheduled," said Ban.
(Reporting by Timothy Heritage, writing by Thomas Grove)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.