Talks that could avert a U.S.-led strike in Syria were centered Friday some 1,800 miles away in Geneva, leaving some optimistic about not just the removal of chemical weapons from the war-torn nation but about the prospects for a long-term peace.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were the key figures in the discussions, which a senior State Department official said would be extended an extra day into Saturday. The two diplomats are also expected to meet face-to-face later this month.
U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi expressed hope Friday that a breakthrough out of these envoys' talks -- which are focused on Moscow's initiative to control, remove and destroy Syria's chemical weapons -- will revitalize peace talks overall in Syria, where the U.N. estimates more than 100,000 have died and millions have been displaced inside and outside the country since the civil war erupted in 2011.
LATEST DEVELOPMENTS FRIDAY:
• U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to present a U.N. chemical weapons inspectors report on Syria at 11 a.m. Monday to members of the Security Council, three diplomatic sources said. The report delves into chemical weapons used on August 21 on the outskirts of Damascus. Noting the fluidity of the situation, the sources said Friday night that the timing of the presentation could change.
• Ban said Friday that he believes findings from U.N. inspectors -- expected to be released next week -- "will be an overwhelming report that chemical weapons were used."
• Referring to the surprise one-day extension of the Kerry and Lavrov into Saturday, a senior State Department official said, "If there was no opening, we wouldn't still be here." An official in President Barack Obama's administration hinted at progress, saying, "We are coming closer to agreement on the scope of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile."
• The United Nations on Friday provided a time frame for Syria in its quest for accession, or membership, in the Chemical Weapons Convention:
-- U.N. lawyers are perusing Syria's request.
--Once that request is deemed legally sufficient, Syria automatically becomes a convention member. The legal review could take days or weeks.
-- After 30 days from Syria's accession, the convention is legally binding on Syria and it must permit inspections.
-- After another 30 days -- which would be 60 days from when it formally joined the convention -- Syria would have to declare its chemical weapons stockpiles.
-- All chemical weapons stocks must be disposed of within a decade.
• Senior officials in President Barack Obama's administration said Friday that they have no expectation that Russia would agree to include anything in a U.N. Security Council resolution that would trigger the use of military force in Syria.
• Speaking at a joint news conference with Lavrov, Kerry on Friday called his conversations with his counterpart on the chemical weapons issue "constructive" and said the talks were continuing.
• Lavrov said a path needs to be designed that "would make sure this issue is resolved quickly, professionally, as soon as practical." He said professionals, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations need to be engaged in the effort.
• The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons -- the body that oversees the Chemical Weapons Convention, an agreement banning the possession of chemical weapons -- says it has received a request from Syria for technical assistance, in relation to its stated intention to sign up to the ban.
• The OPCW is in the process of convening a meeting to discuss the technical assistance request. It will take place at the group's headquarters in the Hague, probably in the middle of next week.
• American intelligence analysts are at odds over what the United States knows about the location of Syria's chemical weapons, CNN has learned. Disagreement within the intelligence community surfaced over the past few weeks as spy agencies observed Syria -- fearing a possible U.S. military strike -- moving a significant amount of chemical weaponry, according to two U.S. officials familiar with internal discussions.
• Kerry, Lavrov and Brahimi pledged to work toward setting a date for a second round of international peace talks involving all parties in Syria, known as Geneva II. This would be a continuation of the talks held in Geneva in June 2012.
• Kerry and Lavrov are planning to meet again at the end of September, on the margins of the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting.
• Brahimi hosted a meeting Friday between Kerry and Lavrov in Geneva, according to a U.N. statement. Afterward, Brahimi called the ongoing U.S.-Russia talks "extremely important" not just as they relate to chemical weapons, but also in moving forward the process toward forging a political resolution to Syria's two-year civil war.