Syria: Sure, We'll Turn Over Our Chemical Weapons

State department backtracks on Kerry statement, says it was rhetorical

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 9, 2013 12:02 PM CDT

(Newser) – Syria is on board with Russia's proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control, Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told reporters in Moscow today. Moallem earlier met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov today, and says he "welcomes" Lavrov's suggestion, CNN reports. John Kerry appeared to suggest something similar today, and so did UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said he might urge the Security Council to demand Syria turn over its stockpiles for destruction. Ban said that, had chemical weapons been used, it would be a "terrible crime."

But the statement doesn't necessarily mean Syria will avoid a US strike. The State Department is now walking back Kerry's comments, with a spokeswoman saying he "was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used." And writing for the AP, Vladimir Isachenkov observes that Moallem made no mention of timeline or specifics and notes that it remains to be seen whether his comments are truly "a genuine goodwill gesture by Syria or simply an attempt to buy time."

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem speaks to the media after his talks with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, unseen, in Moscow on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem speaks to the media after his talks with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, unseen, in Moscow on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013.   (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
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