By Salma Abdelaziz and Jim Sciutto
Syria has shipped out 11% of its chemical weapons stockpile - falling far short of the February 5 deadline to have all such arms removed from the country, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons told CNN Wednesday.
The slow pace of removal prompted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to warn last month that all options remain available to force compliance.
The OPCW is now in touch with senior Syrian officials to discuss a new schedule going forward.
The aim is ambitious, but the expectations are low.
As top diplomats gathered in Switzerland for international talks aimed at ending Syria's protracted civil war, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the opposing sides in the conflict to seize the opportunity for peace.
"After nearly three painful years of conflict and suffering in Syria, today is a day of fragile but real hope," he said at the start of the conference in the Swiss town of Montreux.
But the obstacles to finding a solution to a conflict that threatens to destabilize the Middle East quickly became apparent at the conference, which was beset by squabbles before it even began.FULL STORY
By Elise Labott
It was unusually positive language for a top U.S. official speaking about the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but there was Secretary of State John Kerry giving the Syrian leader a pat on the back.
Speaking to reporters in Bali on Monday, Kerry hailed the quick pace at which inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have been able to get on the ground in Syria and begin their work to destroy its vast chemical weapons arsenal, as called for in a recent U.N. Security Council resolution.
By Catherine E. Shoichet and Jamie Crawford
A new possibility for a diplomatic solution in the standoff between Syria and the United States surfaced unexpectedly Monday as the war-torn country said it supported a proposal to hand over control of its chemical weapons.
But a key question loomed: Is that a viable option or simply a stall tactic as President Bashar al-Assad's government tries to stave off U.S. military action?
"It's certainly a positive development when the Russians and Syrians both make gestures towards dealing with these chemical weapons," President Barack Obama told CNN's Wolf Blitzer Monday.
By Jamie Crawford
Russia urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday to put his nation's chemical weapons stockpile under international control as part of an effort to head off a possible military strike from the United States.
Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said his country would urge Syria to take the action if it would avert a military response from the United States. There was no immediate reaction from the Syrian government.
Lavrov's comments came the same day Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to endorse a similar course of action.
Assad "could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week," Kerry said during a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague. "But he isn't about to do it and it can't be done obviously."
The Russian ambassador to the United States said any use of American military force against war-wracked Syria could carry serious consequences and hoped such an outcome would not ruin already tense relations.
While things are difficult between Washington and Moscow, Sergey Kislyak said in Washington that ties have not plunged to Cold War depths – yet.
“They’re not in good shape,” Kislyak said at an appearance in Washington for the Center for the National Interest.
By Elise Labott
CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter
An Israeli web site only has one question: Has the attack happened yet? The one-word answer: No. The joke in Israel is that everyone keeps turning to the site, which has more than 17,000 likes on Facebook, to see if the answer has changed to "yes."
An Israeli dental clinic has also gotten into the game with a full-page ad for dental implants. Under a picture of President Obama, the question: "Got teeth?"
As it tries to build international support for action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for its alleged chemical attack, the Obama administration must confront an increasing lack of confidence among its allies. While billed as an effort to strengthen U.S. resolve, diplomats say President Barack Obama's decision to seek authorization from Congress is playing out as weakness in a region concerned that Obama would show similar indecisiveness if faced with a nuclear Iran.
By CNN's Barbara Starr and Jennifer Rizzo
The U.S. military could execute a strike against Syria very quickly, if it's ordered to, according to Pentagon sources.
President Barack Obama is still debating a limited strike after Syrian regime forces allegedly unleashed a brutal chemical attack against civilians and rebel forces earlier this month, killing at least 1,429 people, according to Secretary of State John Kerry.
Before any missiles start flying, the president would issue an "execute" order for operations to begin.
Aaron David Miller, vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, says Obama apparently has chosen the middle option on Syria (between doing nothing and the McCain option of pushing for regime change). The result is one of the most widely telegraphed military assaults ever by Washington and a situation in which the president seems to be in a corner, forced to take action or risk being considered ineffective. It’s the least bad option, Miller says.FULL STORY
By Jim Acosta and Brianna Keilar
A senior administration official stressed U.S. President Barack Obama is on an “abbreviated timeline” for making a decision on whether to launch a military strike against Syria over its suspected use of chemical weapons.
“We see this with some urgency,” the official said.
After U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that chemical weapon use by the Syrian regime was “undeniable,” the senior administration official said the United States no longer requires confirmation from United Nations weapons inspectors.
“This one is a lot easier to figure out,” the official said. “This is really obvious.” FULL POST