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Kerry With OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu

Remarks With OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu Before Their Meeting

John Kerry
Secretary of State
The Hague, Netherlands
March 24, 2014

DIRECTOR GENERAL UZUMCU: Mr. Secretary, we are very pleased to receive you here at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. This is the first visit by a Secretary of State from the United States to our organization. We are, of course, very grateful for the continued support by the United States to the OPCW, and the latest one is the fact that in Syria we think that the success of this operation mission in Syria will further strengthen the norm against chemical weapons throughout the world. And we’ll look forward to our exchange of views today. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you very much, Director General. I’m very happy to be here at the OPCW. Obviously, Foreign Minister Lavrov and I relied very heavily on the capacity of the OPCW as we negotiated a removal of the weapons from Syria, and we’re very grateful for OPCW’s expertise, for their commitment, for their courage, their willingness to help get the job done.

We are just about at the 50 percent removal mark. That’s significant, but the real significance will only be when we get all of the weapons out. Regrettably, the Syrians missed a March 15th date for destruction of facilities. We have some real challenges ahead of us now in these next weeks. We in the United States are convinced that if Syria wanted to, they could move faster. And we believe it is imperative to achieve this goal and to move as rapidly as possible because of the challenges on the ground.

So I really look forward to exchanging views. We have great admiration for the work done here quietly over a long period of time in a steady basis. And I think everybody who works here should be very, very proud of the fact that a weapon of mass destruction will be taken out of a country for the first time in its entirety in this kind of an arrangement, and we all look forward to achieving that important goal.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, do you see the Crimea situation having an impact on the cooperation with Russia when it comes to the Syria chemical weapons?

SECRETARY KERRY: I hope not. All I can say is I hope the same motivations that drove Russia to be a partner in this effort will still exist. This is bigger than either of our countries. This is a global challenge, and I hope Russia will stay hard to the task. Thank you.


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