Kerry Looking to Nail Down Syria as Russia Talks Begin

Rebels, meanwhile, despair over lack of strike
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2013 7:52 AM CDT
Updated Sep 12, 2013 7:59 AM CDT
Kerry Looking to Nail Down Syria as Russia Talks Begin
US Secretary of State John Kerry waves as he arrives in Geneva, Switzerland today, to test the seriousness of a Russian proposal to secure Syria's chemical weapons.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini)

John Kerry arrived in Geneva today for two days of talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov over the Syrian disarmament plan they sort of created together. Kerry's top goal, one official tells Reuters, "is to see if there's reality here or not." To do that he'll demand an immediate sign that Syria is serious, in the form of a complete, public disclosure of all of its chemical weapons stockpiles. Beyond that, the two hope to hammer out the details of a UN Security Council resolution.

But the two are light-years apart on those details, the New York Times reports. The US wants the resolution to automatically authorize a military strike if Assad fails to make good, while Russia wants a far weaker non-binding resolution—and a promise from the US not to use force. The talks, meanwhile, are being met with despair by Syrian rebels. "The Russian initiative is just a lie," the Free Syrian Army's top general tells NPR. Syrians "can't understand why … our friends are delaying." (More John Kerry stories.)

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