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Kerry, Lavrov Hold Crucial Syria Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are talking in Geneva about how to get Syria to give up its chemical weapons.

Kerry said before the first day of talks Thursday that he hopes diplomacy can avoid the need for a U.S. military strike on Syria. The United States says the Syrian army dropped chemical weapons on civilians last month.

Kerry said that while the U.S. and Russia disagree over who was responsible for the poison gas attack, there is no question that civilians died, and chemical weapons are a threat in the Syrian civil war.

Syria says it agrees to a Russian plan to turn over all its chemical weapons to the United Nations and have them destroyed. The United States would hold off military action.

Syria's ambassador to the U.N. says the country is now a full-fledged member of the global treaty outlawing chemical weapons. Syria had promised to join the treaty as part of the plan.

U.N. officials say they have received documents spelling out Syria's intention to sign the treaty, but they say this is just the first step of the process.



Secretary Kerry is rejecting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's assertion that he can wait one month between signing the weapons ban and turning over details about his weapons to the United Nations.

Mr. Assad calls the one-month waiting period "standard." Kerry says there is nothing "standard" about the situation

U.S. officials say the Russian proposal for Syria's weapons will be difficult and complicated.

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