Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday, after reaching a tentative agreement with Russia to disarm Syria of chemical weapons, that his earlier statement about the impossibility of such a plan was in fact “the language of diplomacy.”

“I purposefully made the statements,” Kerry said in Geneva, Switzerland, after reaching the framework of an agreement with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “And I did indeed say it was impossible and [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] won’t do it, even as I hoped it would be possible and wanted him to do it. And the language of diplomacy sometimes requires that you put things to the test, and we did.”

The comments at a post-agreement press conference were the latest from the Obama administration in an attempt to explain Kerry’s comments Monday in London, after President Obama said Aug. 31 the United States should launch a punitive military strike against the Assad regime for using chemicals weapons, but that he would first seek congressional approval.

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