By Julian Pecquet - 08/23/12 08:57 PM EDT
The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Affairs panel has offered Russia a partnership to take control of Syria's chemical weapons as a first step toward easing the tense U.S.-Russian relationship.
Speaking with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, Lugar said the idea could help to bring the United States and Russia closer together at a time of heightened tension over Syria. Lugar was in Moscow this month to build support for the reauthorization of his legislation allowing U.S. financial and technical support for dismantling nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union, which expires next year.
“I took the opportunity with the deputy ministers of defense and foreign affairs to suggest that there is another cooperative threat reduction that we could do with Russia,” Lugar said. “The United States and Russia, two great powers, with a lot of experience with chemical weapons, would plan together for a contingency that if the Assad regime falls or there is a general disintegration of order in Syria, we would be prepared as two nations to take over those chemical weapons and destroy them.”