Kerry says Syria talks can't be used as stalling tactic

(CBS News) GENEVA -- The proposed diplomatic solution to the Syria crisis is moving ahead. To avoid a U.S. military strike, Syria officially notified the U.N. Thursday that it will sign the treaty banning chemical weapons.

kerry, lavrov
Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speak during a press conference at the Hotel Intercontinental on September 12, 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

Syria also said it will begin submitting information about its stockpiles a month later. But that was just information it promised, not the weapons. That immediately became an issue in Geneva, where Secretary of State John Kerry opened negotiations with his Russian counterpart over the Russian-brokered peace deal.

Kerry said it's not enough for Syria to give the world an inventory of their chemical weapons in 30 days -- that's a non-starter for the United States. The U.S. says this is a special case about an attack that happened three weeks ago, and that there's little reason to trust the Assad regime.

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Watch: Kerry says chemical weapons negotiations are "not a game," below.

The U.S. is looking for concrete signs in Geneva from the Russians and the Syrians that they're going to move quickly to locate and destroy all of the Assad regime's chemical weapons stockpiles.

Kerry told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that the U.S. does not want talks to be used as a stalling tactic.

"It has to be real, it has to be comprehensive, it has to be verifiable, it has to be credible, it has to be timely, and implemented in a timely fashion," Kerry said.

If these negotiations fail, Kerry said military force is still an option - and this is a sticking point for the Russians. They want the threats taken off the table.

On Thursday night, Kerry and Lavrov decided to meet one-on-one over a private dinner to talk about some of the technical details, and tomorrow they'll be joined by Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. special envoy to Syria.

  • Margaret Brennan

    Principally assigned to the State Department, Margaret Brennan also serves as a CBS News general assignment correspondent based in Washington, D.C.

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