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Russian Initiative Offers Hope Of Breakthrough on Syria War

Getting Syria to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention and give up its chemical weapons gives new hope for a surge in US-Russian diplomacy to end the war in Syria. 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry smiles with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L)  at a press briefing at the State Department in Washington before a day of talks August 9, 2013. U.S. and Russian officials will seek to maintain a working relationship when they meet in Washington on Friday even though the political mood between the two countries has hit one of its lowest points since the end of the Cold War.    REUTERS/Gary Cameron   (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX12F1G
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Just a few days ago, Russian–US relations were seen as hopeless, but it was these two countries that were capable of coming up with an out-of-the-box idea for dealing with the Syrian problem. Russia proposed that Damascus put its chemical weapons under international control, and the Syrian government immediately agreed. At first this seemed to be an ad lib, but the notion had already come up in talks between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama and later between Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry.

Russia and America have a good history of working together to counteract weapons of mass destruction in other countries. Back in the days of the Cold War, despite their adversarial relationship, the Soviet intelligence services informed their American colleagues of South Africa’s nuclear program, and through joint efforts, the West and the USSR successfully pressured Pretoria to discontinue the program. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States helped Russia organize the work — at first on a political and diplomatic level, and then on a technical level — to move the nuclear arsenals from Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan into Russian territory. In 2002, Russian and American specialists moved weapons-grade plutonium to Russia from Yugoslavia, where it had remained since the time of Josip Broz Tito’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. If they can reach agreement now on joint actions to neutralize Syria’s chemical weapons capability, it would be serious evidence that Moscow and Washington are still responsible leaders on the issue of dealing with weapons of mass destruction left over from the days of the Cold War.

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