After U.S. officials attempted to explain Secretary of State John Kerry’s invitation to Syria to abandon its chemical weapons as “rhetorical,” the Obama administration is now offering a timeline to make the case the top U.S. diplomat’s remarks may have been less accidental than previously acknowledged.
At a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague Monday, Kerry appeared to give Syrian president Bashar al-Assad an opportunity to avoid a U.S. military strike.
“Turn it over, all of it, without delay,” Kerry said.
A senior administration official said Kerry’s comment in response to a reporter’s question came after weeks of discussions with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
As soon as Kerry made the remarks, the official said, he spoke with Lavrov in a pre-scheduled phone call. It was during that conversation, the official said, that Kerry demanded a plan from the Russians. Lavrov, the official said, promised a response.