Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he could not be 100 percent certain a US-Russian plan for the destruction of Syrian chemical arms would be carried out successfully, but he saw reason to hope it would.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it was essential the deal reached last Saturday be enforced and that the U.N. Security Council be willing to act on it next week, when the U.N. General Assembly holds its annual meeting in New York.
"The Security Council must be prepared to act next week," Kerry told reporters in Washington. "It is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out in the strongest possible terms about the importance of enforceable action to rid the world of Syria's chemical weapons."
French President Francois Hollande suggested on Thursday for the first time that Paris could arm Syrian rebels in a 'controlled framework," since they were now caught, he said, between the Syrian government on one side and radical Islamists on the other.
Rebels have been fighting government forces in a civil war that has claimed 100,000 lives since 2011. Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil told Britain's Guardian newspaper that neither government forces nor rebels were currently capable of outright military victory.
Putin told a gathering of journalists and Russia experts in the Russian town of Valdai that he could not be 100 percent certain the plan for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons would succeed.
"But everything we have seen so far in recent days gives us confidence that this will happen," he said, adding, "I hope so."
Russia and the United States brokered the deal to put Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's chemical arms stockpiles under international control to avoid possible U.S. military strikes that Washington said would punish Assad for a poison gas attack last month.
The West blames Assad's government for the Aug. 21 attack in Ghouta, outside Damascus, which the United States says killed 1,429 people.
Assad, in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, again denied his forces were responsible for the attack. Putin also reiterated Russia's contention that the attack was staged by opponents of Assad.