By Elise Labott, reporting from the United Nations
In a tiny room at the United Nations under a portrait of Vladimir Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, flanked by a team of men in dark suits, welcomed Secretary of State John Kerry into his meeting room.
Kerry was flanked by a team of women: U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, Undersecretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Victoria Nuland.
A highly-anticipated 45-minute meeting went twice that long and was described by Kerry as "very constructive."
One senior State Department official said the two men had pencils in hand as they marked up a text of a U.N. resolution on dismantling Syria's chemical weapons.
The official said there are three or four "conceptual hurdles" the two sides are working through. The goal, the official said, is a "binding, enforceable, verifiable" security council resolution that stands the best chance to implement a framework agreement.
This resolution, the officials said, is supposed to work hand in hand with an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons resolution being drafted at the Hague that lays out the framework for going about dismantling Bashar al-Assad’s weapons program.
This official and another senior Obama administration official said there is not a debate about whether to authorize the use of force in a U.N. resolution – it is more about the idea there should be consequences if Syria doesn't comply.
Officials were vague, but it appears the sticking points center around how to determine non-compliance, how consequences are determined and what those consequences would be.
Power and her Russian counterpart plan to try to draft text on the conceptual issues.