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Kerry, Lavrov pin hopes for Syria peace process on chemical weapons talks in Geneva

GENEVA U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday that the prospects for a resumption in the Syria peace process are riding on the outcome of their chemical weapons talks.

Kerry, flanked by Lavrov and the U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, told reporters at the U.N. in Geneva after an hour-long meeting that the chances for a second peace conference in Geneva "will obviously depend on the capacity to have success here ... on the subject of the chemical weapons."

"President Obama is deeply committed to a negotiated solution with respect to Syria, and we know that Russia is likewise. We are working hard to find common ground to be able to make that happen," said Kerry, who also met privately with Brahimi at a Geneva hotel on Thursday to explore ways to resume international negotiations last held in Geneva in June 2012 aimed at ending the Syrian civil war.

Lavrov said it was "very unfortunate that for a long time that the Geneva communique was basically abandoned."

Kerry and Lavrov said they would meet again in New York toward the end of the month to try to fix a date for second conference.

CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan reports that the tone between the senior diplomats from two of the world's most powerful nations was softer Friday compared to the first day of talks. Lavrov addressed Friday's news conference in English rather than his native Russian, and with both men referred to each other by their first names.

"We are committed to trying to work together, beginning with this initiative on the chemical weapons, in hopes that those efforts could pay off and bring peace and stability to a war-torn part of the world," said Kerry.


Syria officially notified the U.N. on Thursday that it would sign the international treaty banning chemical weapons, and said it would begin submitting information about its stockpiles a month later.

But as CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan reported, it was just information promised by Syria, not the weapons, and that immediately became an issue in Geneva as Kerry opened negotiations with his Russian counterpart over the Russian-brokered peace deal.

Kerry said it wasn't 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. said this was a special case about an attack that happened three weeks ago, and that there's little reason to trust the Assad regime.

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 Lavrov on Thursday that the U.S. does not want talks to be used as a stalling tactic.

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