DAMASCUS - The Syrian government has accepted a Russian proposal to turn over its chemical weapons to international control to avoid a military confrontation with the United States, Syria's foreign minister said Tuesday.
"Yesterday [Monday] we held a round of very fruitful negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and he put forward an initiative regarding chemical weapons. Already in the evening we accepted Russia's initiative," Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said after meeting with the speaker of the Russian parliament.
Muallem said Damascus accepted the Russian initiative to "derail the U.S. aggression."
The report was initially carried by the Russian news agency Interfax.
Meanwhile, Lavrov said that Russia is now working with Syria to prepare a detailed plan of action, which will be presented shortly.
He said Moscow will then be ready to finalize the plan together with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
President Obama has threatened to use U.S. military action against Syria in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed more than 1,400 people in a Damascus suburb. Syria has denied the charge.
The latest developments came as France said it would put before the United Nations Security Council a resolution appealing to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad to make public the details of its chemical weapons program. The announcement was made in Paris by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
It was not immediately clear whether the terms of an agreement accepted by Syria would track with the French proposal, but it was a sign of further diplomatic progress on the issue.
Fabius said the terms of the resolution will call for an "extremely serious" response were Syria to violate the conditions set by the resolution. He said the process - under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter - will start later Tuesday.
France is a permanent member of the Security Council. The other permanent members are the United States, United Kingdom, China and Russia. Permanent members have the power to veto resolutions.
The Arab League also announced that it would back the Russian proposal, AFP reports.
Sen. John McCain said Tuesday that he is "very skeptical" of the proposal but says the best test would be to follow any Syrian acceptance by putting inspectors on the ground immediately to get the chemical weapons under control.
The Republican from Arizona, who has called for more robust support for Syrian rebels, told CBS This Morning that as far as Congress is concern "we have to see how this plays out."
"Again, put me down as extremely skeptical, but to no pursue this option would beamistake," he said.
McCain, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services committee and member of the Foreign Relations committee, was in the Middle East last month to meet with leaders of the Syrian rebel groups.
Reuters reported that the idea for putting international control of Syria's chemical weapons was first discussed between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of last week's Group of 20 summit.
The development comes as support for Obama's call for military intervention in Syria appears to be on the decline.
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