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White House: Diplomatic effort on Syria will 'take some time'

The White House said Wednesday that the process of negotiating a possible plan to place Syrian chemical weapons caches under international control will “take some time” but that it will not tolerate “delaying tactics” by Syria or its ally, Russia.

“I suspect this will take some time,” spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at a briefing, emphasizing that “a verifiable way” to remove chemical weapons from the Syrian regime is key to the talks.

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Secretary of State John Kerry is slated to discuss the proposal Thursday with the Russian foreign minister in Geneva. 

President Barack Obama addressed the nation about the potential deal last night, saying that the proposal is an “encouraging” sign prompted by the threat of the use of force against the Syrian regime.

“It’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments,” Obama said. “But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad’s strongest allies.”

Critics said that Obama, whose speech was originally intended to push Congress to support authorizing the use of force in Syria, muddled his message by addressing the nation even after that vote was indefinitely postponed in light of the Russian diplomatic overture as well as amid overwhelming public opposition and doubt that the authorization would pass.

Asked if Obama considered canceling the speech, Carney offered a flat “nope.”