U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov started talks late Thursday in Geneva to get Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons arsenal.
Speaking before the evening meeting, Kerry said he hopes diplomacy can avoid a possible U.S. strike on Syria for the alleged role of Syrian government forces in a chemical weapons attack last month outside Damascus.
"We cannot allow that to happen again," Kerry said, repeating U.S. allegations that the Syrian regime orchestrated the attack.
"Expectations are high," Kerry said of the talks. "This is not a game."
Kerry said that while the U.S. and Russia disagree on who was at fault "there is much we agree on" including that civilians died in the attack and that chemical weapons are a threat in the Syria conflict.
"I welcome the Russian delegation," he said, adding that the U.S. has brought chemical weapons experts along with its entourage. Still, Kerry added it is too soon to tell if diplomacy will work but that the U.S. is serious in its efforts.