“[Monday] we held a round of very fruitful negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Serge Lavrov and he put forward an initiative regarding chemical weapons. Already in the evening we accepted Russia’s initiative,” said Walid Muallem, the foreign minister, in a statement reported by Russian news and picked up by USA Today.
The proposed deal is being backed by China and the Arab League, but the U.S. remains skeptical, fearing it could be just another delay tactic.
“I think you have to take it with a grain of salt initially,” Obama told NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie on Monday night. “This represents a potentially positive development. . . . I think what we’re seeing is that a credible threat of a military strike from the United States, supported potentially by a number of other countries around the world, has given them pause and makes them consider whether or not they would make this move.”
He added: “And if they do, then this could potentially be a significant breakthrough. But we have to be skeptical because this is not how we have seen them operate over the last couple of years.”
Meanwhile, Archbishop Mario Zenari, the Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, said the nation was profoundly impacted by the worldwide prayer vigil held around the world on September 7 to implore heaven for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Reflecting on the words of Pope Francis, spoken from St. Peter’s Square on Saturday, but heard around the world, Archbishop Zenari told Zenit News: [The Pope’s words] resounded like a breeze, a breath of hope here as it has all over the world, his strong conviction that this harmony can be recovered, that it can be recovered with the help of God and with good will,” he said.
“This strong confidence of the Holy Father is truly a breath of oxygen not only here in Syria and the Middle East, but I believe all over the world in these days in which a very dark and heavy atmosphere is breathed. There was a need to feel this very strong wind of hope.”
The president is expected to formally address the nation about the situation in Syria tonight at 9:00 p.m. EST.
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