Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on Syria Monday to place its chemical weapons under international control to avert military strikes.
After talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in Moscow, Lavrov expressed hope for a “quick” and “positive” response from Damascus.
Lavrov said such a plan would help “avoid military strikes” that are being considered by the United States and its allies.
Syria's Foreign Minister said his country welcomes Russia's proposal for it to place its chemical weapons under international control and then dismantle them quickly to avert U.S. strikes.
“I state that the Syrian Arab Republic welcomes the Russian initiative, motivated by the Syrian leadership's concern for the lives of our citizens and the security of our country, and also motivated by our confidence in the wisdom of the Russian leadership, which is attempting to prevent American aggression against our people,” he said.
The statement came a few hours after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avoid a U.S. military strike by surrendering all his chemical weapons within a week.
When asked by a reporter in London whether there was anything Assad’s government could do or offer to stop a military strike, Kerry answered:
“Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week - turn it over, all of it without delay and allow the full and total accounting (of it), but he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done.”
The State Department later said Kerry had been making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility of Assad turning over chemical weapons, which Assad denies his forces used in the August 21 poison gas attack, according to Reuters.
In an interview with U.S. television network CBS, Assad said the United States would be going against its own interests if it got involved in Syria, warning of repercussions.
Source: Reuters; AFP; AP