State Department: Kerry’s remark on al-Assad giving up weapons ‘rhetorical’

CNN Security Clearance

By Jamie Crawford

Russia urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday to put his nation’s chemical weapons stockpile under international control as part of an effort to head off a possible military strike from the United States.

Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said his country would urge Syria to take the action if it would avert a military response from the United States. There was no immediate reaction from the Syrian government.

Lavrov’s comments came the same day Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to endorse a similar course of action.

Assad “could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week,” Kerry said during a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague. “But he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done obviously.”

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