The Obama administration made clear Thursday it won't wait indefinitely for Russia and Syria to negotiate a deal to hand over control of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.
President Barack Obama told the public Tuesday night he was hopeful a diplomatic solution could be reached, but Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with his Russian counterpart in Geneva Thursday, said action needs to follow the disarmament pledges.
"The words of the Syrian regime in our judgment are simply not enough," Kerry said in a news briefing. "There ought to be consequences if it doesn't take place."
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has built a reputation as Obama's diplomatic "frenemy," penned an op-ed in The New York Times Thursday, that accused the United States of too often relying on "brute force," but pledged his country's support of a diplomatic solution.
"A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days," Putin wrote. "The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government's willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction. Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action."
Obama declined to comment on Putin's op-ed Thursday morning during a photo opportunity at the start of a cabinet meeting, but said he's hopeful Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov can make headway.
"I am hopeful that the discussions that Secretary Kerry had with Foreign Minister Lavrov as well as some of the other players in this can yield a concrete result," he said. "And I know that he is going to be working very hard over the next several days to see what the possibilities are there."
Obama had been seeking congressional authority for military strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad following a report of a chemical weapons attack that killed more than 1,400 Syrians, including 400 children. Syria has been embroiled in a two-year long civil war that has resulted in more than 100,000 dead and millions in fleeing refugees.