WASHINGTON -- Syria said Tuesday it has accepted Russia's proposal to place its chemical weapons under international control for subsequent dismantling.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Tuesday after meeting with Russian parliament speaker that his government quickly "agreed to the Russian initiative."
Al-Moallem added that Syria did so to "uproot U.S. aggression."
His statement sounded more definitive than his remarks Monday, when he said that Damascus welcomed Russia's initiative.
Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that Russia is now working with Syria to prepare a detailed plan of action, which will be presented shortly.
Lavrov said that Russia will then be ready to finalize the plan together with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
President Barack Obama said Monday the Russian proposal could be "potentially a significant breakthrough," but he remained skeptical that Syria would follow through.
With Congress on the verge of considering whether to authorize Obama to launch a retaliatory attack on Syria, the United States and Russia on Monday embraced a proposal that would allow Syria to avoid a U.S. missile strike by relinquishing control of its chemical weapons.
Obama called the proposal a significant breakthrough in an interview with NBC Nightly News, and he told Gwen Ifill of PBS NewsHour that he had discussed the plan with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit last week in Russia.
But after two weeks of pressing for the need for a U.S. strike, Obama also said he remained skeptical that Syrian President Bashar Assad would agree to the idea. If he does, Obama told ABC News that he would absolutely hold off on a military strike.
This may be a first step in what potentially could be an end to terrible bloodshed and millions of refugees throughout the region that is of deep concern to us and our allies, Obama told Scott Pelley of CBS Evening News.
The diplomatic advance came as evidence mounted that Obamas request for congressional approval for a strike remained widely unpopular, both in Congress and with the American people. Despite a public push that has included impassioned presentations in recent days by Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, informal counts found House members who said they planned to vote no far outnumber those willing to say they would vote yes. A new McClatchy/Marist poll of U.S. public opinion showed nearly 3-to-1 opposition among registered voters to military action.
The Senate postponed its vote on a resolution that had been scheduled for Wednesday. Democratic aides said the delay was intended to give the Russian proposal time to come together. I dont think we need to see how fast we can do this, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday night. We have to see how well we can do this.
The sudden possibility of a diplomatic solution came as Assad launched a public relations campaign of his own, granting a rare interview to American television, and new information emerged that raised questions about the U.S. version of a chemical weapons attack Aug. 21 in suburbs east of Damascus.
Speaking to interviewer Charlie Rose, Assad denied using chemical weapons and warned that if the U.S. struck Syria, you should expect everything, apparently referring not only to potential retaliation from Syrian forces but to fallout from his allies Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.