GENEVA (CBSDC/AP) — The level of distrust between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was on full display in Geneva Friday.
During a press conference following an hour-long meeting discussing the Syrian government handing over its chemical weapons, Kerry asked a Russian translator to repeat part of Lavrov’s remarks, but did not get an immediate response.
That led to this exchange between the two counterparts.
“It was OK, John, don’t worry,” Lavrov said, trying to reassure Kerry that nothing controversial was stated.
“You want me to take your word for it?” Kerry responded to Lavrov, smiling. “It’s a little early for that.”
Kerry and Lavrov met in Geneva to discuss details over how to reach a deal with Syrian President Bashar Assad to hand over the regime’s chemical weapons stockpile. The Syrian government agreed to a Russian proposal that would place the weapons under international control, but Assad recently said for the deal to go through the United States must not arm the opposition.
“I will say on behalf of the United States that President Obama is deeply committed to a negotiated solution with respect to Syria, and we know that Russia is likewise,” Kerry said. “We are working hard to find the common ground to be able to make that happen. We discussed some of the homework that we both need to do.”
Kerry added: “And we are committed to try 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.”
Obama originally called on Congress to authorize a military strike on Syria following an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that the administration says killed more than 1,400 people, including hundreds of children. The president told lawmakers to delay the vote during an address to the nation Tuesday night after the Syrian government said they would agree to the Russian proposal.
“Men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas. Others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath,”Obama told the nation Tuesday night. “On that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detail the terrible nature of chemical weapons, and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off-limits.”
Kerry said that he will meet with Lavrov later this month during the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York.
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