On the eve of President Obama‘s address to America on the crises in Syria, the issue has become less complicated with a move from Russia suggesting that Syria turn over their chemical weapons to avoid military action against them.
According to CNN, Syria has agreed to terms and here is the latest developments:
• Russia says it’s working on a plan for Syria to hand over chemical weapons. “We, the Russian side are currently engaged in the preparation of a workable, clear, specific plan for which — literally this minute — we are in contact with the Syrian side,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. “We expect to present this plan in the near future and are prepared to refine and work it out with the participation of the UN Secretary General, the organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and with the participation of the members of the Security Council.”
• Syria has accepted Russia’s proposal to place the country’s chemical weapons under international control, the Interfax news agency reported, citing Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem.
“Yesterday we held a very fruitful round of talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and from his side, there was a proposal for an initiative relating to chemical weapons. And by evening (Monday) we agreed to the Russian initiative,” Moallem said. He said Syria had agreed because this would “remove grounds for American aggression.”
• China welcomes and supports Russia’s proposal to have Syria hand over chemical weapons to international control, the Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.
• Iran says it welcomes the Russian initiative for Syria “to put a halt to militarism in the region,” according to a banner on state-run Press TV’s website.
• France is planning to offer a five-point U.N. Security Council resolution, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said. The points are: Condemning the massacre committed by the Syrian regime on August 21; Having Syria shed light on its weapons of mass destruction and place them under international control; international inspections; severe consequences if Syria violates its obligations; and submitting the perpetrators of the August 21 massacre to international justice.
U.S. Congress and government
• On CNN’s “New Day,” Sen. John McCain upbraided the Obama administration’s discussions of Syria. “There’s a degree of incoherence that I have never seen the likes of,” the Arizona Republican said. He noted that Secretary of State John Kerry said any strike on Syria would be “unbelievably small.” “What does that mean?” McCain asked. “We still haven’t determined what the goal of these military strikes are.”
• Obama will go to the Hill to make his case to Senate Democrats, a Senate leadership aide told CNN. Making sure to hit both sides of the aisle, the president also will attend the Senate GOP lunch, a Senate Republican aide said.
• The House Armed Services Committee hosts three of the administration’s big guns beginning Tuesday morning: Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
• Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will talk about Syria at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, just ahead of the president’s national address.
American public opinion
• A new national poll suggests that as Obama prepares to tell a skeptical American public why the U.S. should take military action against Syria, he’s partly to blame for the box he’s put himself into.
• The CNN/ORC International poll indicates that Americans are divided evenly on whether Obama is a strong leader as well as whether he’s honest and trustworthy.
• The poll also found that only one in five say they completely understand Obama’s Syria policy. A little more than half said they “somewhat” understand the administration’s game plan, and about three in 10 said they are not very clear about the administration’s strategy or don’t understand it at all.
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