Syria Takes Steps To Join Weapons Treaty As U.S.-Russian Talks Begin

Source:  Michael R. Gordon and Steven Lee Myers / The New York Times

GENEVA — Secretary of State John Kerry and a team of American arms control experts began talks with Russian counterparts Thursday on a plan to secure and dispose of Syria’s chemical weapons, and he set an early test for Syria’s top leader by insisting on quick disclosure of all data on the Syrian arsenal.

In a joint appearance before their talks Thursday evening, Mr. Kerry and the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, told reporters they were serious about pursuing a diplomatic solution to the chemical weapons crisis provoked by the apparent use of those munitions in a mass killing last month in a Damascus suburb.

The United States has blamed President Bashar al-Assad of Syria for that attack but has delayed a punitive military strike following the disposal plan put forward by Russia, the Syrian government’s most important backer. Russia has defended Mr. Assad, suggested that the rebels seeking to topple him were responsible, and warned that an American military strike would only create more instability in the Middle East.

“Expectations are high,” Mr. Kerry said. “They’re high for the United States, perhaps even more so for Russia, to deliver on the promise of this moment.”

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