Secretary of State John Kerry lauded Syria Monday, saying he was "very pleased" at news that experts had already begun the process of destroying Syria's chemical weapons.
In unusual praise for Damascus, Kerry also gave the government of President Bashar Assad credit for quickly complying with the U.N. resolution on destroying its chemical weapons arsenal.
He told a news conference in Indonesia, where he is on an official visit, lauded the start of destruction of chemical weapons in Syria as a "good beginning" and said Washington and Moscow had agreed to press the U.N. to set a date for a Syria peace conference in November.
"We're very pleased with the pace of what has happened with respect to chemical weapons in a record amount of time," Kerry said.
"[Syria] agreed in a record period of time to follow the framework that [Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov] and I negotiated in Geneva and they put it into place both in The Hague as well as at the United Nations.
"I think that was a terrific example of global cooperation. I think it's also credit to the Assad regime for complying rapidly as they are supposed to. Now, we hope that that will continue."
His comments came after the U.N. said international inspectors from the Netherlands-based watchdog Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have begun work on ensuring the destruction of weapons.
Under their supervision, "Syrian personnel used cutting torches and angle grinders to destroy or disable a range of items," said Eri Kaneko, associate spokeswoman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office.
"This included missile warheads, aerial bombs and mixing and filling equipment. The process will continue in the coming days," she added.
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