U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are meeting in Geneva Thursday to work on Russia's plan to end the threat posed by Syria's chemical weapons.
Neither Kerry or Lavrov have given any details of the proposal. It involves President Bashar al-Assad's government giving up all of its chemical weapons to the United Nations to have them destroyed. At the same time, the United States would set aside plans for a military strike.
By saying they agree to the plan in principle, Syrian authorities have admitted for the first time that the country has an arsenal of illegal chemical weapons - a complete reversal of all previous statements on the subject by the Assad government. Syria also now says it will sign the global pact banning such weapons.
President Barack Obama says U.S. ships in the Mediterranean region are holding their current positions, to keep pressure on the Syrians to live up to any agreement.
Kerry has said reaching any agreement to remove the chemical-weapons threat in Syria will be "exceedingly difficult."
Syria's stock of chemical weapons and poison gas are said to be huge. It is scattered in sites across the country and must be identified and secured by United Nations inspectors.
While this would be a comp[lex operation, White House spokesman Jay Carney says it would be an enormous accomplishment to take away one of the world's largest stockpiles of chemical weapons from a regime willing to use them.
The Syrian military dropped poison gas on civilians in the Damascus suburbs last month, killing 1,400 people. President Obama threatened a military strike on Syria, and U.S. officials say that was what prompted Syria to agree to give up its weapons.
Meanwhile, envoys from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plan to discuss a French and U.S. resolution about quick implementation of the Russian plan.
Russia has already said it will block any attempt to include the potential use of military force against Syria to ensure its compliance.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the atrocities committed in Syria have stained the reputation of the world body.