GENEVA — Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meet again Saturday in Geneva, as the effort aimed at defusing the crisis in Syria reaches a crucial juncture.
Both diplomats made clear that any prospects for re-starting peace negotiations will depend on first settling the standoff over the use of chemical weapons on civilians.
The U.S. has been seeking a U.N. resolution spelling out Bashar Assad’s agreement to turn over those weapons, including consequences if he doesn’t follow through.
But senior administration officials say President Barack Obama would be open to a resolution that does not include the threat of military force for failing to abide by the agreement.
The officials say Obama retains the authority to launch a strike, but Russia is expected to veto a resolution that includes a military trigger.
The officials also outlined for the first time a timetable for negotiations with Russia over Syria’s chemical weapons. The officials say they’ll know within a few weeks whether that effort has the necessary traction.