Assad: It Was Russia, Not US, That Convinced Us

He agrees to sign chemical weapons pact as Kerry, Lavrov meet

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 12, 2013 1:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – John Kerry and Russia's foreign minister began wrangling over the details of Moscow's plan to defuse the Syria crisis today, as Bashar al-Assad publicly embraced the idea and simultaneously zinged the US: "Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia," he said in an interview with Russian state TV, reports al-Jazeera. "The US threats did not influence the decision." Assad said Syria would formally sign an international ban on chemical weapons, and the UN said after the interview aired that it had received the paperwork, reports Reuters.

"This is a two-sided process and we are counting, first of all, on the United States to stop conducting the policy of threats regarding Syria," said Assad, who added that Syria would begin submitting data a month after signing the weapons pact. That's not good enough, said Kerry in opening remarks at his US-Russian summit with Sergei Lavrov, reports AP. Noting that Assad had called the 30-day period "standard," Kerry argued that "there is nothing standard about this process" because chemical weapons were actually used. He still held out the possibility of a military strike if the dismantling doesn't take place, but Lavrov said the Russian plan "will make unnecessary any strike against the Syrian Arab Republic." (Click to read about Vladimir Putin's much-discussed op-ed today.)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, right, arrives for the Geneva meeting.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, right, arrives for the Geneva meeting.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini)
Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Geneva.
Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Geneva.   (AP Photo/Larry Downing, Pool)
Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, arrive for their press conference.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, arrive for their press conference.   (AP Photo/Larry Downing, Pool)
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks next to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, during a press conference in Geneva.
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks next to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, during a press conference in Geneva.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini)
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