The United States and Russia say they have reached an agreement on a framework for securing Syria's chemical weapons after the third day of intense negotiations in Geneva.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov say some elements of the deal include a timetable and how Syria must comply — and that if Syria fails, they will seek a Security Council resolution that could authorize military action.
The agreement looks to avert the looming military strike which Washington has threatened since last month, in retaliation for the Syrian regime's alleged use of chemical weapons.
At a news conference Saturday, Kerry said the pair and their teams of experts had reached "a shared assessment" of the existing stockpile and that Syria must destroy all of its weapons.
Kerry said the parties "have committed to a standard that says, verify and verify." He added the world now expects the regime of Bashar al-Assad to honour its commitments under the deal.
The deal requires the approval of the UN's chemical weapons body, after which a precise timetable will be set. Kerry indicated inspectors will be on the ground by November, with the destruction of the chemical weapons to be complete by mid-2014.
The agreement contains nothing about the potential use of force if Syria fails to comply, said Lavrov.
Kerry said there was no pre-agreement on what action the UN Security Council might take if Syria fails to comply with the plan.
The negotiations between the U.S. and Russia on securing Syria's chemical weapons also are considered key to a resumption of peace talks to end the 2 ½-year Syrian civil war.
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