U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that if President Bashar al-Assad wants to avert an attack on Syria in response to his government's alleged use of chemical weapons he should hand over his entire arsenal by the end of the week.
Speaking Monday in London, the top U.S. diplomat added that he did not believe Mr. Assad would take such action and questioned whether it was even possible with a civil war raging in Syria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced Monday that Moscow would push its ally Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control and then dismantle them quickly to avert U.S. strikes.
Britain and Syria welcomed the Russian proposal.
United Nations Chief Ban Ki-moon said that in a bid to help the U.N. Security Council overcome what he called its "embarrassing paralysis," he may ask the council to demand Syria move its chemical arms stocks to Syrian sites where they can be safely stored and destroyed.
Speaking to reporters in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he may also ask the 15-nation body to demand that Syria join the international anti-chemical weapons convention, a treaty that Damascus has never signed.
In a CBS interview taped in Damascus, Mr. Assad denied ordering the August 21 sarin gas attack outside the Syrian capital that Washington says killed more than 1,400 people, including at least 400 children.
Mr. Assad warned the United States "should expect everything" in response to a potential U.S.-led military strike, saying that if "rebels or terrorists in the region" have chemical weapons, they could use them after any American intervention.
The Obama administration is launching an intense two-day push to convince Congress and the American people of what it says is the need for a military strike on Syria.
Top security advisers will hold classified and open-door briefings with lawmakers this week. President Barack Obama will give interviews to six major television networks Monday before making a White House address to the nation Tuesday night.