Meetings in Geneva to test seriousness of Russia and Syria
Secretary of State John Kerry waves as he arrives in Geneva for meetings with the Russian Foreign Minister to discuss the situation in Syria.
September 12th, 2013
08:52 AM ET

Meetings in Geneva to test seriousness of Russia and Syria

From Jim Sciutto traveling with Secretary Kerry in Geneva

As Secretary Kerry and his team land in Geneva, I get a clear sense of them heading into these crucial talks with the Russians with a healthy dose of skepticism. As one official said to me, this is a test of whether the Russians and more importantly the Syrians are serious. Both sides are bringing their experts on chemical weapons, security, and more – all to assess whether there is a credible way forward to catalogue, collect and destroy Assad's massive arsenal of chemical weapons. These next 48 hours will determine if there is a diplomatic way out of this.

"We can test whether there is a credible and authentic way forward here – that the Russians mean what they say – as importantly, more importantly probably, that Assad means what he says and that we can move forward with a program that is verifiable, that can happen expeditiously and that Assad cannot have access to and continue to use chemical weapons against his own people," a senior administration official told me aboard the plane as we flew to Geneva.

Administration officials say the intended outcome of the meetings is to get an "outline of what a way forward may look like" which they can then take to Britain, France, China, and others to build support for a resolution at the United Nations Security Council.

When asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s article in the New York Times, officials say the process in Geneva will still go forward.

"We have had preliminary conversations and the discussion has always been of Assad's weapons, weapons acknowledged by Assad regime itself," an official said.  That is, whatever Putin says in the Times, they are all still here to discuss ridding Syria of CW.

But officials admit the difficulty of removing weapons from an active war-zone, saying this will be "very hard".  This is "not a permissive environment,” officials say despite the fact that the bulk of the chemical weapons are in regime-controlled areas.

And how can you trust Assad as a partner notwithstanding the standing U.S. policy that calls for him to leave power?

“There are ways we will know the Syrians are serious," an official told me.

Administration officials also go into these talks in Geneva clear-eyed of what the Syrian opposition thinks of them.

The opposition are "upset and don't trust this at all,” one official said.  “ We are telling them not to pre-judge"

 

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Alex279

    Now the UN inspectors report is in. 44 pages not decisively conclussive about who did it, but better than nothing.

    Two kind of missiles which might potentially be used in chemical attack were identified: One is Soviet M-14 dated back in 195x which were exported into all arab countries with pro-Soviet regimes at that time (Soviets themselves got rid of them completely by mid 196x, since it became obsolete when BM-21 Grad was introduced); The other one is kind of more interesting: it is significantly larger, it does not match or even reseble anything in Soviet or Western arcenals, and it kind of very crude and ugly - just a big cyllinder warhead in front without any effort to make of aerodinamic shape. Technologically it is more in par with palestuinian-made al Qassam or something of this sort. Here comes the question: after the march chemical attack followed by investigation by the inspectors Russians claim that "the weapon used in attack was not consistent with one industrially made and therefore most likely that it was made/improvised by rebels", but offer no detail, or at least nothing made it into the news at that time. Did the weapon found/used in march is the same as in the today's UN report?

    September 16, 2013 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  2. Juyrdb Diutrdbh

    A little bird said the other day that the Russian Oylimpics is all Putin really cares about because it is all his doing and he will be crushed if it does not go well. UNDERSTAND? Anyway the US has more medals than Russia...

    September 14, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Reply
  3. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    September 13, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Reply
  4. Yutrfbgr Doutt

    Putin has never been in a possition to make an offer....the Us will boycot olyimpics.

    September 13, 2013 at 10:18 am | Reply
  5. giggig

    Serious or a joke = it is an irrelevant affair. Sarin is from NK and supply potentials unlimited, why bother.
    Decimize Assads hardware completely especially , if we can prove the lie about the AlNusra and ALQuada , both are players in your own control, to place the friendly fire deadly and comprehensively on the FSA.

    Here what one of the FL Governor Candidates just concluded: Syria and Putin is a large fraud. There is no Al quada and there never was.Its justr a play,played by statists. Its a false play to make us (inclusive or exclusive Assad)believe ,there is a civil war and bad guys are on the opponent's side. Remember the Iranian (republican guard officers) "Pilgrems" who got caught near Damascus. There were thousands more infiltrated , to "play" Al Nusra and Al Q@uada forces,not one shot was ever aimed at them ! They just pretended they would be aside Gen Idriss ,the FSA, but all they did ,reveiling targets ,false play to them. And bluffing to be against Assad . When the time is right open friendly deadly fire . A horrifying Situation for the FSA .
    Once Hezbollah found out ,hoe this fooling and killing works,they joined in,Assad never asked them to do so.He will regret soon ,when the Hoax blows .The Hoax will blow this eve , in Geneva , when Russia has to answer certain questions.Saringas availability is endless, so what a cheap offer from Putin " we surrender the depots ,if you take down the threat(use of force) . Kerry can break away from these dishonest gang anytime at the latest Sunday.
    Force will have to be used,UN vote/mandate will never come (Evil setups will remain in the way),US Congress vote will
    come at the latest when the People exactly understand ,what deadly mechanisme is in place here. In the Russian,North Korean,Iranian Equation its calculated , US Congress would never make it possible for NATO(NATO + USA,Command-wise)to kick Russian foothold away from Syria. That's why the Armada got transported into Syria ,75 – times as much war gear as needed to avert a Rebellion.There are greater plans in the works . Their plan is to genocide Arabia , under the pretense of "Civil Wars" , get the heads rolling of these Kings and Sheiks and Sultans.Set a foothold at the straights of Hormuz. Sarin production is in NorthKorea ,slavelabor, and also genozidial killing of political inmates while prtoducing the weapons.Putin takes them over his Sibirian adjacent borders and prepositions them In Lebanon and Iran,certainly not
    on the spots offered to give them up,at best 12% or so. A joke,we should refuse to even talk about such offers ,since they can always lie , hide,replainish,refill,relocate etc etc.

    September 13, 2013 at 12:30 am | Reply
  6. Rbjm Jdghjl

    snip snip

    September 12, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Reply
  7. Random

    We need to rein in Mccain.

    Who did what becomes kinda irrelevant when the stockpiles are gone. At this point you need a few days off. You arent wrong but compromise is just that. I would totally understand the value of a public hanging if the stockpiles were to stay. We might need you for what you do best but right now it only stands to complicate the chances for this to work and the world to get a real victory. Your eye is not on the prize sir.

    September 12, 2013 at 11:07 pm | Reply
  8. Ldryj Dfgjm

    ARE WE TO BELIVE THAT ABSOLUTLY NOTHING ASSAD HAS OR HAS NOT SAID IS NOT TRUE. Seems like Putin wants to make confession. I still have not read Putins terrorist gesture AKA New York Times Op-Ed on 911, 2013.

    September 12, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Reply
  9. Ldryj Dfgjm

    Assad needs to speak for himself since he already said its his job.

    September 12, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Reply
  10. saeed

    if usa thinks it can mess with iran then 1 blow to the head and usa is gone im telling usa be very carefull this can be the last thing you people do and after that your children are going to burn to dust the same moment you burn up.

    September 12, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Reply
  11. Tired of my taxes paying for Middle Eastern wars and welfare

    Lemme see if I got the scorecard right... We want to bomb Syria for bombing Syrians, have the CIA arm the rebels that includes Al Qaeda fighters in Syria while fighting Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Help the rebels with a regime change while partnering with the government to eliminate chemical weapons. All this while criticizing Russia for taking a dismissive off the cuff remark from the Secretary of State made on an undoable solution and making it happen. Don't forget that we are still threatening to bomb Syria without the support of the citizens of the US, the Congress, our allies, or the UN. Meanwhile the US can't pass a budget, are over our heads in debt from 2 wars that we still haven't paid for, has implemented sequestration measures chioking the life out our country, has been exposed for spying against it's own citizens without cause or restraints, and still hasn't held anyone accountable for Benghazi. Then we question the word of those we are getting ready to sit down at the negotiations table with!!! Yeah, I'd say that's pretty much the definition of "Exceptionalism"! or did I forget something...

    September 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Reply
    • Navyvet8192

      Yeah, that just about covers it,... So what's your point???

      September 12, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Reply
    • StanCalif

      Like everyone else on CNN posts, you forget to mention Israel! Israel is very quiet about this Syrian mess! Israel would just love it if we bomb Syria! Bombing Syria would bring Iran into play. Israel's ultimate goal is for us to bomb Iran for them! Why miss out on a golden opportunity! Israel's Bebe even ordered his gov. to keep quiet about Syria! Wonder why? If we can bomb Syria, we can bomb Iran! Israel is loving this!

      September 12, 2013 at 10:40 pm | Reply

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