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U.S., Russia reach agreement on Syria's chemical weapons

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, right, during a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday Sept. 14, 2013. U.S. Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said Saturday they have reached an agreement on a framework for Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons, and would seek a U.N. Security Council resolution that could authorize sanctions, short of military action, if Syrian President Bashar Assad's government fails to comply. (AP Photo/Keystone,Martial Trezzini)

GENEVA — A diplomatic breakthrough Saturday on securing and destroying Syria's chemical weapons stockpile averted the threat of U.S. military action for the moment and could swing momentum toward ending a horrific civil war.

Marathon negotiations between U.S. and Russian diplomats at a Geneva hotel produced a sweeping agreement that will require one of the most ambitious arms-control efforts in history.

The deal involves making an inventory and seizing all components of Syria's chemical weapons program and imposing penalties if President Bashar Assad's government fails to comply will the terms.

After days of intense day-and-night negotiations between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and their teams, the two powers announced they had a framework for ridding the world of Syria's chemicals weapons.

The U.S. says Assad used chemical weapons in an Aug. 21 attack on the outskirts of Damascus, the capital, killing more than 1,400 civilians. That prompted U.S. President Barack Obama to ready American airstrikes on his order — until he decided last weekend to ask for authorization from the U.S. Congress. Then came the Russian proposal, and Obama asked Congress, already largely opposed to military intervention, to delay a vote.


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