Syria Agrees To Russian 'Plan' To Transfer Control Of Chemical Weapons And Avert A US Attack

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Syria's President Bashar al-Assad Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) shakes hands Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov before a meeting in Damascus March 20, 2008.

Syria has  "agreed to the Russian initiative"  to place the country's chemical weapons under international control for subsequent dismantling,  Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem   said  on Tuesday.

He added that Syria did so to  "uproot U.S. aggression."

On Wednesday U.S. President Barack Obama  said  that he would "absolutely" pause plans for strikes on Syria if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was serious about ceding control of the WMD stockpiles.

Moscow and Damascus " expect to present this plan soon" to the U.N. , Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Agence-France Presse on Tuesday.

China and Iran , who along with Russia is  propping up the Syrian regime , back the Kremlin's proposal.

How Syria would place one of the world’s  largest stockpiles  of chemical weapons under international control in the middle of an  ongoing  civil war is unclear.

The Syrian opposition denounced the notion as a political maneuver "that will only result in more deaths and destruction for the Syrian people" and called for military retaliation on Assad's regime for a August 21 chemical weapons attack.

Germany, the U.K., and France acknowledged the potential deal but remain skeptical.

On Tuesday France said it would propose a United Nations Security Council resolution that will call for Syria to allow inspectors to oversee the destruction of chemical weapons in the country and for Syria to become a member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons .

What the Russian move will certainly do is delay any U.S. decision on a strike.

"I don't anticipate that you would see a succession of votes this week or anytime in the immediate future," Obama told ABC news.

The potential breakthrough arose from an offhand remark by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the Kremlin pounced on. Last night Obama said that he had discussed the topic with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week at the G-20 summit.



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