Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moallem (Reuters)
Syria has accepted a Russian proposal to place the regime's chemical weapons stockpiles under international control.
Moscow's diplomatic attempts to avert a Western strike in response to the 21 August chemical weapons attack in the Ghouta region have gained momentum after the fiercest advocates for military intervention - the US and France - opened the doors to it.
Syria's foreign minister Walid al-Moallem said Damascus had agreed to put its arsenal under international control to "remove the grounds for American aggression".
"We held a very fruitful round of talks with [Russian] foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and he proposed an initiative relating to chemical weapons. We agreed to the Russian initiative," he said.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said that Paris would float a resolution in the UN Security Council to make the Syrian government give full disclosure about its chemical weapons for handover and destruction.
Lavrov said that Russia was working with Syria on a concrete plan for putting chemical weapons under control.
US senator John McCain, one of the US's most vocal supporter of military intervention in Syria, said: "I am very sceptical but you can't pass up this opportunity".
Russia and China, two of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council have strongly opposed any measures against the regime, including direct military action.
Big step forward
Earlier, US president Barack Obama admitted that Russia's plan could be a big step forward.
"This could potentially be a significant breakthrough," Obama told NBC News. "But we have to be sceptical because this is not how we've seen them [the Assad regime] operate over the last couple of years."
The idea of placing chemical weapons under international control was first flagged publicly by US secretary of state John Kerry with an offhand comment during his visit to the UK.
Kerry told a press conference that the only way the Assad regime could avoid a US strike was to give up every single bit of its chemical arsenal within a week.
US officials shortly backtracked, saying that Kerry was making a "rhetorical argument" rather than a serious offer, but Russia took it and put it on the table during talks with Damascus.
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