An impromptu remark by Secretary of State John Kerry has opened the door to a possible diplomatic settlement that would avoid a U.S. military strike on Syria for its alleged chemical weapons use last month.
When a reporter in London asked Kerry Monday whether there was anything Syria could to avoid a U.S. military strike, he said the government of Bashar al-Assad could hand over all its chemical weapons by the end of the week. Kerry later said he was speaking rhetorically and was not making a proposal.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov embraced the secretary's words. He said Moscow will push Syria to put its weapons under international control, where they would be dismantled.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem endorsed the Russian plan, saying it would be a way to avoid what he called U.S. aggression.
U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said the White House will "take a hard look" at Russia's offer.
Late Monday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid postponed an initial vote set for Wednesday on authorizing the use of force in Syria, in the wake of this new diplomatic initiative.