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.)