Secretary of State John Kerry's negotiations with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov got off to a rocky start Thursday, with the Russian mocking Kerry right at the outset.
"They got off to a really bad start yesterday --- partly because of the Putin op-ed and partly because Kerry in the opening remarks spoke at length --- and I mean at length --- compared to the unprepared few welcoming comments from the Russian counterpart," NBC News foreign correspondent Andrea Mitchell said on "Morning Joe."
"And then the Russian minister said at the end, very tartly, 'Sometimes diplomacy demands silence.'"
Mitchell said the tone improved after a private dinner yesterday evening, but Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's decision to set another precondition for handing over his chemical weapons (he wants the United States to stop arming the rebels, in addition to holding off on a military strike on his regime) is complicating matters.
"No movement on the chemical side," Mitchell, who is reporting from Geneva, Switzerland, said while reporting on the state of the talks. "They did go over to the [United Nations] headquarters here briefly, and they've agreed, get this: The stalled peace talks --- this isn't the chemical talks --- the stalled peace talks on the long term political solution to the war that were supposed to be in May, then postponed to June, then July, still haven't taken place because each side in the war thought they were gaining or losing advantage; well, now they will talk about it on September 28 or so in New York --- talk about when they will have a peace conference."
Mitchell said that the negotiators have turned their attention to the chemical weapons caches.