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Report: Syria accepts Russian chemical weapons proposal

By By Josh Levs CNN
Published On: Dec 24 2013 05:15:30 AM CST
Updated On: Sep 10 2013 07:12:14 AM CDT
UN chemical weapons experts, Syria, 8-29-2013

Mohamed Abdullah/Reuters

Syria has accepted a Russian proposal aimed at averting a U.S. military strike, Russia's Interfax news agency reported Tuesday.

After "a very fruitful round of talks" with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday, "we agreed to the Russian initiative," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem was quoted as saying.

China also said it welcomes and supports the proposal, the Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.

Like Russia, China is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and has used its veto power to block some resolutions against Syria.

The proposal -- to put the country's chemical weapons sites under international control -- stemmed from off-the-cuff remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Asked Monday whether there was anything Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government could do to avoid an attack, Kerry said al-Assad "could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week.

"He isn't about to do it, and it can't be done, obviously," Kerry said.

Russia, Syria's leading ally, quickly urged al-Assad to do just that.

"It's certainly a positive development when the Russians and Syrians both make gestures towards dealing with these chemical weapons," President Barack Obama told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Monday.

But Obama said the threat of American force would remain, "And we don't want just a stalling or delaying tactic to put off the pressure that we have on there right now."

Sen. John McCain, a leading Republican voice in calls for military action against Syria, said Tuesday there could be "a very good initial test" of such a solution.

"That would be for the immediate dispatch of international monitors to these chemical weapons sites" in Syria, he told CNN's "New Day."

"I'm very, very skeptical," he said. "But the fact is, you can't pass up this opportunity -- if it is one."

McCain said he is trying to work with Obama and Kerry and others.

But, he added, "There's a degree of incoherence that I have never seen the likes of so far."

He noted that Kerry has said any attack on Syria would be "unbelievably small."

"What does that mean?" McCain asked. "We still haven't determined what the goal of these military strikes are."

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