US, Russia may have Syria deal but distrust remains: analysts

US, Russia may have Syria deal but distrust remains: analysts

WASHINGTON - Despite Moscow and Washington reaching a deal on stripping Syria of chemical weapons, the progress doesn't disguise the mutual distrust prevailing between the two countries, analysts say.

The landmark agreement hashed out in Geneva gives Syria a week to hand over details of the regime's stockpile, which the deal aims to destroy by the middle of next year, thus avoiding US-led military action.

Swiftly hailed by the West and rejected by the Syrian rebels, the accord also left the door open to unspecified sanctions if Damascus fails to comply.

But the deal is unlikely to thaw long-frosty ties between the former Cold War foes.

Leaders in Russia and the United States have been engaged in a bitter dispute over the US threat of military strikes on Moscow's close ally Syria in the wake of an alleged chemical weapons attack orchestrated by President Bashar al-Assad's regime on August 21.

The Geneva agreement "won't improve US-Russian relations, which are based on distrust," Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Mideast Conflicts chief Alexander Shumilin told AFP.

Russian President Vladimir Putin caused an uproar in the United States this week with his dismissal of "American exceptionalism". The White House quickly shot back by saying that, in contrast to Moscow, Washington promotes human rights and freedom of speech.

In his New York Times opinion piece published Wednesday, Putin also argued that Syrian rebels were behind the deadly attack on the outskirts of Damascus, suggesting they did so to provoke foreign military intervention in their favour.

"Putin emerges from this deal looking like the bad guy who won over Obama but whose goal is to save the criminal regime under the pretense of fighting for peace," Shumilin said.

Russia and China - both veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council - have on three occasions voted down resolutions that would have put pressure on Assad.

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