UPDATE: Syria says it welcomes Russia’s offer.
After John Kerry gives Syria one week to turn over its chemical weapons, the Russians come back with this. We don’t know if this is enough to deter the U.S. from bombing Syria, but it certainly offers a respectable out to Obama:
MOSCOW — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that his country has asked Syria to transfer control of its chemical weapons to international monitors in order to prevent a U.S. military strike.
Lavrov also called on Syria to sign and ratify the Convention on Chemical Weapons, which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons, including the nerve gas that the government of President Bashar al-Assad is accused of deploying outside Damascus last month, killing more than 1,400 civilians.
“We do not know whether Syria will agree to this, but if the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in that country will avoid strikes, we will immediately begin working with Damascus,” Lavrov said. “We call on the Syrian leadership not only to agree on a statement of storage of chemical weapons under international supervision, but also to their subsequent destruction.”
Lavrov spoke after meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem in Moscow, and presenting him with the proposal. “We look forward to a quick and hopefully positive response,” Lavrov said.
Hours earlier, in London, Secretary of State John F. Kerry sketched out a similar scenario after being asked by a reporter whether there was anything that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could do to avoid an attack. “Sure, he could turn over every bit of his weapons to the international community within the next week, without delay,” Kerry said. “But he isn’t about to.”