Syria has publicly consented to a Russian plan that would see the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile and avoid an attack by the United States.

“Syria welcomes the Russian proposal out of concern for the lives of the Syrian people, the security of our country and because it believes in the wisdom of the Russian leadership that seeks to avert American aggression against our people,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem is quoted by The Associated Press as saying Monday.

The country would first place its chemicals under “international” control. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon endorsed the idea, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier in the day that Syria could avoid an attack if it gave up “every single bit” of its chemical arsenal.

President Obama’s plan to attack Syria doesn’t seem to have a bright future in Congress, and a new poll confirms that Americans continue to oppose such action. Furthermore, only one in five respondents bought the White House’s argument that failing to punish Syria would encourage other bad actors.

According to the AP, the handover deal may have originated in direct discussions between Presidents Obama and Vladimir Putin during the G-20 summit last week.

The surprise series of statements from top U.S., Russian and Syrian diplomats followed media reports alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who discussed Syria with President Barack Obama during the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg last week, had sought to negotiate a deal that would have Assad hand over control of chemical weapons.

Putin himself said Friday at a news conference marking the summit’s end that he and Obama discussed some new ideas regarding a peaceful settlement of the crisis and instructed Kerry and Lavrov to work out details.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer


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