“I can’t say that we had the solution, but we have certainly influenced something,” Norway’s Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide told the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang (VG).
Barth Eide, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, and a host of other foreign ministers from the Baltic and Nordic nations, discussed the matter during a video conference two weeks ago, just days before Obama visited Stockholm.
While in the Swedish capital, the US president met with the prime ministers of Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Finland for a dinner.
According to VG, the initiative to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control was presented to to President Obama during the dinner.
The idea was also presented to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov, who was contacted by Finland’s Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja. Lavrov was interested in the proposal.
The initiative was then proposed by Russia on Monday and welcomed by Syria soon after. The need for intervention was raised after the United States blamed the Syrian government for a chemical attack in Damascus in late August that killed 1,429 people. Obama lobbied for Congress support in a military strike, while the Syrian government blamed rebels.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday to discuss the matter further.
“The risk of a strike is not completely over, but it’s less likely than it was a week ago,” Barth Eide told VG.
When asked about the report, a spokesperson for Bildt refused to comment, instead directing reporters to Bildt’s blog.
In a post published on Monday, Bildt mentioned that the chemical weapons proposal had been discussed at a meeting of EU foreign ministers last Saturday.
“When we discussed things informally in Vilnius on Saturday, one of the ideas aired was demanding that Syria give up their chemical weapons through some sort of international control,” he wrote.
“Today, that idea suddenly grew wings,” he added.