MOSCOW - Syria will fulfill an initiative to hand over its chemical weapons only when the United States stops threatening to strike Syria, RIA news agency quoted President Bashar Assad as saying in a television interview.
Assad also said that Damascus will begin handing over information on its chemical weapons stockpiles one month after it joins a anti-chemical weapons convention.
"When we see the United States really wants stability in our region and stops threatening, striving to attack, and also ceases arms deliveries to terrorists, then we will believe that the necessary processes can be finalized," he was quoted as saying in an interview with Russian state television.
Syria's decision to cede control of its chemical weapons was the result of a Russian proposal, not the threat of US military intervention, Interfax news agency quoted President Bashar Assad as saying in a Russian television interview.
"Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia. The US threats did not influence the decision," Interfax quoted Assad as telling Russia's state-run Rossiya-24 channel in the interview.
Assad also told Rossiya-24 that Syria would submit documents to the United Nations for an agreement governing the handover of its chemical arsenal.
Rossiya-24 did not immediately air the interview and it was not clear when it was recorded.
US Secretary of State John Kerry flew into Geneva on Thursday to hear Russia's plans to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons and avert US-led military strikes, an initiative that has transformed diplomacy in the two-and-a-half year old civil war.
Kerry would insist any deal must force Syria to take rapid steps to show it is serious about abandoning its chemical arsenal, senior US officials said ahead of Kerry's talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
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Among the first steps Washington wants, one US official said, is for the government of Assad to make a complete, public declaration of its chemical weapons stockpiles quickly as a prelude to allowing them to be inspected and neutralized.
This week's eleventh-hour Russian initiative interrupted a Western march to war, persuading President Barack Obama to put on hold a plan for military strikes to punish Assad for a poison gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians on Aug 21.
Syria, which denies it was behind that attack, has agreed to Moscow's proposal that it give up its chemical weapons stocks, averting what would have been the first direct Western intervention in a war that has killed more than 100,000 people.
A version of the Russian plan leaked to the newspaper Kommersant described four stages: Syria would join the world body that enforces a ban on chemical weapons, declare its production and storage sites, invite inspectors and then decide with the inspectors how and by whom stockpiles would be destroyed.
In the past Syria had not confirmed that it held chemical weapons. It was not a party to treaties that banned their possession and required disclosure, although it was bound by the Geneva Conventions that prohibit their use in warfare.
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