A team of U.S. arms experts will accompany Secretary of State John Kerry to Geneva to meet with Russian counterparts for high-stakes talks on Syria’s chemical weapons, a U.S. official said Wednesday.
Kerry is set to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov first on Thursday, but officials said the talks could stretch into Saturday.
Russia said Wednesday it had given the U.S. its plan to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control amid hopes of a diplomatic solution to the crisis triggered by an alleged gas attack near Damascus last month.
The move came a day after threatened U.S.-led strikes against President Bashar Assad’s regime were put on hold in response to Russia’s offer to oversee Syriagiving up its arsenal.
Kerry and Lavrov are expected to closely examine the Russian proposal, but State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said so far Moscow had “put forward ideas” rather than a “lengthy package,” adding there were still “components that need to be worked out.”
Kerry will also meet with the U.N.-Arab League special envoy on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, during his visit to Geneva, Psaki said.
“The secretary will be heading to Geneva later this evening to meet not only to meet with Foreign Minister Lavrov, but we will also be bringing a team of experts to meet with their team of experts,” she told reporters.
“Our goal here is to hear from the Russians about the modalities of their ideas that they have put forward and to assess whether they meet our requirements” for the disposal of Syria’s chemical weapons, she said.