BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said the global community should welcome Syria's decision to join a ban on chemical weapons, saying it shows the "serious intentions" of Damascus.
"I believe we should welcome such a decision of the Syrian leadership. I would like to express hope that it will be a very serious step on the path to solving the Syrian crisis," Mr Putin told a security summit in Kyrgyzstan.
"This confirms the serious intentions of our partners to go along this path," he said, referring to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, whom the Kremlin has backed throughout the two-and-a-half-year conflict.
Speaking at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, Mr Putin reiterated his firm resistance to the use of force against Syria.
"Recent diplomatic efforts have allowed to reduce an immediate threat of a military operation," he said.
Russia has proposed that Damascus give up its chemical weapons in a bid to avoid threatened military strikes by the United States.
Mr Assad said he would join the ban on chemical weapons but insisted that Washington renounce the "politics of threats" if it wanted the plan to work.
On Friday, the top Russian and US diplomats were set to meet for a second day of key talks to hammer out a plan to secure Syria's chemical weapons.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaking at the summit in Bishkek, said his country welcomed Russia's plan.
"We support the Russian initiative to hand over Syrian chemical weapons under international control."