Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday that he is prepared to place his country's chemical weapons under international control, provided the United States stops threatening Damascus with military action.
"Syria will be sending an appeal to the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in a few days, which will have technical documents necessary to sign the agreement," he said during an interview aired on Russia's Rossiya 24 television.
In New York, a U.N. spokesman confirmed Thursday the receipt of a letter from Syria stating its intention to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the production, stockpiling and use of such weapons.
"One month after signing" the CWC, "Syria will begin passing data about chemical weapons stockpiles to international organizations," Assad told Rossiya 24, stressing that his decision was a response to Russia's diplomatic initiative, not U.S. threats.
He went on to say that Syria will not go through with the process unless the United States abandons any idea of military intervention.
"It does not mean that Syria will sign the documents, fulfill the terms and that will be all," Assad said, insisting that the U.S. government must "stop the politics of threats in relation to Syria."
Russian President Vladimir Putin said much the same thing ahead of a meeting in Geneva between his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
"It's difficult to oblige any country, be it Syria or another, to unilaterally disarm if an action of force is being prepared against it," the Russian leader said.
Washington expects "concrete results" from the talks in Geneva, U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday.
Obama said in an address to the nation Tuesday night that he had asked Congress to postpone a vote on authorizing military action against Syria to give a Russian diplomatic proposal to destroy the Arab country's chemical weapons a chance to succeed.
"Meanwhile, I've ordered our military to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad, and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails," the president said.
The United States and Syria's opposition say Assad's forces killed more than 1,400 people on Aug. 21 in a chemical weapons attack near Damascus.
Assad and Putin, however, say the chemical strike was the work of the rebels. EFE