• Moscow calls on Assad to destroy chemical arsenal • Gambit follows confusion at 'hypothetical' Kerry offer • White House continues press for military authorization Here's a summary of where things stand: • The White House says it is taking a "hard look" at a Russian proposal for Syrian president Bashar Assad to place his chemical weapons arsenal under international control and then destroy them. • However Obama administration officials said that the proposal amounts so far only to talk, that Damascus and Moscow have a dismal track record and that the proposal may be a "stalling tactic." • Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov made the proposal, subsequently welcomed by the Syrian foreign minister, after US secretary of state John Kerry said Monday morning that Assad could resolve the crisis by surrendering control of "every single bit" of his arsenal to the international community by the end of the week. • The US state department soon retracted Kerry's statement, calling it a "rhetorical argument" [sic]. A spokeswoman later called Kerry's remarks "rhetorical and hypothetical." • At least 49 people have died from violence in Syria on Monday, including 25 in Damascus and environs, according to the Local Coordination Committees activist group. • The White House continued its aggressive push to win congressional support for US strikes on Syria. National security adviser Susan Rice said the chemical attacks in Syria are a "serious threat to our national security" including to "citizens at home." • US popular support for military strikes on Syria continues to fluctuate between nonexistent and anemic according to polls. • Clips from President Barack Obama's interviews with the major US cable and network TV outlets were to air at 6pm ET. Syrian president Bashar Assad sought to address the American people in an interview with Charlie Rose (transcript) in which he denied using chemical weapons. "The first question that they should ask themself, what do wars give America?" Assad said. More updates at link.
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