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September 13, 2013 8:53 am

U.S.-Russia Talks Over Eliminating Syria Chemical Arsenal Begin

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Washington Post – U.S.-Russia talks over eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons began here Thursday on a wary and stilted note, as Secretary of State John F. Kerry said U.S. military forces remain poised to attack Syria if a credible agreement is not rapidly reached and implemented. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad added to the tension by saying that he is willing to place his chemical arsenal under international control — but only if the United States stops threatening military action and arming rebel forces trying to unseat him.

Assad, in an interview with a Russian television station, said he is prepared to sign the international convention banning the weapons and would adhere to its “standard procedure” of handing over stockpile data a month later. Kerry made clear that he had a much shorter time frame in mind and that Assad was not a party to the negotiations.

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