Nightly News   |  September 12, 2013

U.S., Russia try negotiating long-term plan for Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s very public proclamation on Russian television didn’t sway Secretary of State John Kerry.  Kerry said his talks with his Russian counterpart about Syria’s chemical weapon program are “not a game.”  NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now to the news from overseas that we continue to follow and the latest incredible turn of events related to syria . as americans woke up to a guest column in the "new york times" from vladimir putin of russia using language that was at time blunt and stern calling out americans on superiority, on claims of american exceptionalism and the use of military force . this as high level talks on syria are under way in geneva. our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell having traveled overnight is there for us again this evening. good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. those talks between united states and russia that began today on syria 's chemical weapons were overshadowed by the man who wasn't here -- vladimir putin . secretary of state john kerry and russian foreign minister sergey lavrov were center stage . but putin stole the show. of all places on the op-ed page of the oh "new york times." putin wrote it is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. he said obama's proposed air strikes against syria will result in more innocent victims and escalation. and it is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the united states . and putin wrote that while no one doubts that poison gas was used in syria , he claims it was used not by the syrian army , but by opposition forces. in geneva, kerry brought a big team of arms control experts.

>> this is not a game. i said that to my friend sergey when we talked about it initially. it has to be real. it has to be comprehensive. it has to be verifiable. it has to be credible.

>> reporter: but the u.s. and russia are far apart. kerry said the assad regime launched the chemical attack on august 21 . lavrov implied the rebels were to blame citing the new york times column. kerry said force should be an option. lavrov said solving the chemical problem makes air strikes unnecessary. in a clearly orchestrated move, syria 's president assad said today on russian tv he's now ready to observe the u.n.'s ban on chemical weapons . not good enough, said kerry . the syrian onpposition weighed in.

>> trying to defeat the world and the dictatorial regime in damascus has no credibility at all.

>> give me the last part of the translation, please. hello?

>> yes, hello. [ laughter ]

>> do you want me to take your word for it? it's early for that.

>> reporter: jay carney at the white house said there is irony to this. it reflects america's freedom of expression that putin could have an op-ed in the "new york times," a freedom not shared in russia under putin .

>> andrea mitchell with the secretary of state tonight. thank you.