Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Dublin to fund arms destruction

Eamon Gilmore has announced 200,000 euro in funding which is to help Syria destroy its chemical weapons stockpile
Eamon Gilmore has announced 200,000 euro in funding which is to help Syria destroy its chemical weapons stockpile

Ireland is to help bankroll the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria with 200,000 euro in funding.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said the contribution will help complete crucial work and reflect the country's long-standing opposition to the use of chemical weapons.

"The process of eliminating Syria's chemical weapons must be quick, credible and comprehensive in order to ensure that their use can never again be contemplated," Mr Gilmore said.

"This is critical for the Syrian people, who have suffered so much, and will improve the security of the Middle East region as a whole."

The Irish funding will be channelled through the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is expected to formally approve a new plan for the destruction of the weapons stockpile later this week.

The announcement from the Tanaiste and foreign affairs minister follows a US-Russian brokered agreement last week on how to deal with Syria's chemical weapons.

The agreement was reached following crunch talks in the aftermath of a deadly chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held Damascus suburb last month, estimated to have killed up to 1,400 people.

The attack is said to have been carried out by president Bashar Assad's regime, as part of a conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people.

"Some seven million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the conflict, while more than 100,000 have died," Mr Gilmore said.

"This is an affront to our common humanity. Ireland is committed to assisting those caught up in this appalling conflict."

The Tanaiste made the funding announcement during a trip to New York, where is due to hold a series of high-level meetings on the ongoing Syrian crisis ahead of the United Nations' general assembly.

He will also meet UN secretary Ban Ki-Moon and several other foreign ministers throughout the week.

Ireland has already provided nearly 11 million euro in humanitarian aid to Syria.

Meanwhile, the Tanaiste is to join US Secretary of State John Kerry, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Bill and Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation to address the opening of the UN Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals.

Global leaders at the event will review progress made in tackling extreme poverty and hunger, and other goals set by the international community 13 years ago.

Mr Gilmore added that ending global poverty was at the heart of Ireland's foreign policy.

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