Russia Urges Syria to Give up Chemical Weapons Stockpile
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called on Syria's Assad regime to give up its chemical weapons stockpile as a way of avoiding military intervention by western states.
In talks with his counterpart, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, Lavrov proposed that Syria's chemical weapons stockpile be placed under "international supervision," following which they would be destroyed.
Muallem apparently welcomed the initiative, praising Russia for "attempting to prevent American aggression against our people".
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron - who's parliament rejected UK participation in a military strike - was cautiously optimistic, saying that the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons would be a "huge step forward", but warning that it should not be used as a "distraction tactic".
The proposal came on the same day as US Secretary of State John Kerry met with European leaders, as part of the Obama administration's attempts to rally support for military intervention, following the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against civilians. More than 1,000 people were killed across several rebel-held suburbs of Damascus, most of them civilians.
In London, Kerry appeared to make a similar offer to the one proposed by the Russian FM, saying that Syria could avoid military strikes by giving up "every single bit" of its chemical weapons arsenal.
US officials have since clarified that Kerry was making a "rhetorical argument" as opposed to a serious offer, along the lines of the Russian proposal.
During his European trip Kerry held talks with Arab League ministers in Paris on Sunday, garnering considerable support for a limited military intervention among Sunni Arab states.