When it comes to diplomacy, Russia is playing chess, Syria is playing checkers and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is playing tiddlywinks. On Monday, Kerry said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avoid having his country bombed into oblivion by turning over “every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week.” Of course Kerry just assumed that Assad would never do such a thing, but the Russians immediately pounced on his statement. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov quickly announced that Russia would encourage Syria to turn over their chemical weapons to international control in exchange for a guarantee that the U.S. will not attack, and subsequently Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem stated that his government was prepared for “full cooperation with Russia to remove any pretext for aggression.” Later on Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon indicated that he is thinking about asking the UN Security Council to support such a deal.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told reporters in Moscow that his nation “welcomes” a proposal by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during talks on Monday: put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control to avert a U.S. military response over an alleged poison gas attack last month.
“I declare that the Syrian Arab Republic welcomes Russia’s initiative, on the basis that the Syrian leadership cares about the lives of our citizens and the security in our country,” Moallem said. “We are also confident in the wisdom of the Russian government, which is trying to prevent an American aggression against our people.”