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Kerry, Lavrov Set For Crucial Syria Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is set to meet his Russian counterpart late Thursday in Geneva, as international negotiations intensify to get Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons arsenal.

Officials traveling with Kerry said he will emphasize with Sergei Lavrov a U.S. demand for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to quickly account for all of his chemical stockpiles. U.S. officials said the meetings could last several days.

Assad said in an interview aired on Russian TV Thursday that he will allow the handover of Syria's chemical weapons to international control.

U.S. officials have said the Russian proposal for securing and destroying the Syrian weapons is possible but "difficult and complicated."

Lavrov said he is "certain there is a chance for peace" in Syria.

In other developments, Obama administration officials told several U.S. news organizations that the Central Intelligence Agency has begun delivering light weapons to moderate Syrian rebels for the first time in Syria's conflict.

But Free Syrian Army rebel chief Salim Idris appeared to dispute that claim, telling U.S. broadcaster NPR that his fighters have not received "any weapons from our American friends."

Russian President Vladimir Putin used an opinion piece in the New York Times newspaper to warn the United States against conducting military strikes against the Assad government, a longtime Russian ally.

President Barack Obama has threatened "limited" military action to punish the Syrian government for allegedly carrying out a chemical attack that killed hundreds of civilians near Damascus last month. But he also has called for more diplomacy before deciding on such a step.

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