Syria’s deployment of chemical weapons on Aug. 21 was “unacceptable,” Secretary of State John Kerry said today, standing alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva.
“We have in no uncertain terms made it clear that we cannot allow that to happen again,” Kerry said.
The U.S. and Russia “have had and continue to have our differences” about Syria, he noted — including Russia’s insistence that the weapons were deployed by rebels in Syria as a way of provoking foreign intervention in their war against the government of Bashar al-Assad. Yet now, he said, they are pressing ahead with negotiations aimed at removing chemical weapons from Syria, placing them under international control and destroying them.
“Expectations are high — they are high for the United States, perhaps even more so for Russia to deliver on this moment,” he said. “This is not a game… It has to be real. It has to be comprehensive… It has to be verifiable… It has to be timely.”
There also must be “consequences” if Syria doesn’t comply, he said. ’resident Obama has made clear that, should negotiations fail, force might be necessary.”
Lavrov, speaking through an interpreter, pointed to President Vladimir Putin’s argument published in an op-ed essay in The New York Times today. (Putin asserted in that article that the rebels deployed the weapons). The two nations, he said, are seeking “mutual consensus.”
The two left their joint press appearance at the day’s end of talks there with a handshake.