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.
Asked whether the proposed idea was enough to avert a military strike on Syria, Obama said, "It's possible if it's real."
The U.S. president spoke hours after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told reporters in Moscow that his nation "welcomes" a proposal that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made during talks on Monday. The idea: put Syria's chemical weapons under international control to avert a U.S. military response over an alleged poison gas attack last month.
"I declare that the Syrian Arab Republic welcomes Russia's initiative, on the basis that the Syrian leadership cares about the lives of our citizens and the security in our country," Moallem said. "We are also confident in the wisdom of the Russian government, which is trying to prevent an American aggression against our people."
Secretary of State John Kerry discussed a similar scenario earlier Monday, though the State Department later said that al-Assad could not be trusted to relinquish his country's chemical stockpiles.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Washington remained "highly skeptical" of the Syrian regime.
"The only reason why we are seeing this proposal is because of the threat of U.S. military action," he said.FULL STORY