U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Thursday to discuss Russia's proposal for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons to avert a U.S. military strike, a media report said Tuesday.
A U.S. State Department official has confirmed the meeting, according to a report published by the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill on its website. It did not disclose further details of the meeting or how long Kerry will stay in Geneva, Xinhua reported.
The meeting was scheduled after a dramatic turn to the Syria crisis occurred on Monday, when Russia proposed Syria place its stockpiles of chemical weapons under international control so as to solve the crisis in a diplomatic way.
Syria has agreed to accept Russia's proposal to avoid a possible U.S. military strike.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al- Moallem said in Moscow Tuesday that his country is ready to " completely cooperate" with Russia to implement the initiative and will reveal the sites of its chemical weapons storage to representatives of Russia and the United Nations.
Washington welcomed Russia's proposal as paying the way for a possible diplomatic breakthrough in the Syria crisis, while expressing deep skepticism that this could be a "stalling tactic" by Damascus to delay the U.S. military attack on Syria.
U.S. President Barack Obama and his security team have been working hard in recent days to lobby Congress to authorize the use of force against Syria as punishment for the alleged Aug. 21 chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus, which the U.S. claims killed more than 1,400 people. Syrian government has strongly denied the accusation.
Kerry, speaking in a State Department-sponsored Google hangout on Tuesday, stressed that any deal for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons must include a "fully verifiable process."
"This cannot be a game, and that we have made very, very clear to the Russians," the top U.S. diplomat noted.