WASHINGTON – The U.S.-Russian plan for the removal or destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough just days ago, appeared to run into trouble Wednesday as the Obama administration backed off a deadline for the Syrian government to submit a full inventory of its toxic stockpiles and facilities to international inspectors.
The State Department signaled that it does not expect Syrian President Bashar Assad to produce the list within seven days, as spelled out in the framework deal that Washington and Moscow announced last weekend in Geneva.
Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, said Wednesday that “our goal is to see forward momentum” by Saturday, not the full list. “We’ve never said it was a hard and fast deadline.”
U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry had described the deadline as the first of a series of “specific timelines” that would indicate whether Syria is committed to the pact, which demands that Assad's government give up its chemical weapons in exchange for the United States shelving the threat of airstrikes.