U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov started talks late Thursday in Geneva aimed at getting Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons arsenal.
Lavrov and Kerry said they hoped the plan could avoid military action against Syria.
The UN has confirmed it has received documents from Syria on joining the Chemical Weapons Convention, a key step in the Russian plan.
In a news conference ahead of a working dinner in Geneva, Foreign Minister Lavrov said the resolution of the chemical weapons issue in Syria would make any military strike by the United States unnecessary.
He said there had to be a move away from military confrontation, and that successful talks could lead to a "Geneva 2" meeting.
Secretary of State Kerry said that only the threat of force had spurred Syria to accept relinquishing its chemical weapons, but that he hoped diplomacy could prevent military action.
He said the expectations for the meeting were high - particularly for Russia.
Kerry said: "This is not a game... it has to be real, it has to be comprehensive, it has to be verifiable, it has to be credible, it has to be... implemented in a timely fashion... Finally, there ought to be consequences if it doesn't take place."
He added: "President Obama has made clear that should diplomacy fail, force might be necessary."
The Syrians' use of the phrase "standard practice" in supplying information to the UN appeared to irk Kerry.
"There is nothing standard about this process at this moment because of the way the regime has behaved," he said.
Lavrov appeared to admonish Kerry for making a political address, saying: "Diplomacy likes silence". Kerry failed to hear the translation of Lavrov's final words and asked to hear them again.
Lavrov said in English, "It's OK, John", only for Kerry to say, smiling: "You want me to take your word for it - it's a little early for that."
Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday that Syria will put its chemical weapons arsenal under international control in response to a Russian proposal and not because of the threat of a U.S. military strike.
Assad made the statement in an interview with Russian state TV which was televised on Thursday, as John Kerry, US secretary of state, landed in the Swiss city of Geneva to meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and discuss how UN can secure and destroy Assad's chemical weapons.
"Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia. The US threats did not influence the decision," Interfax quoted Assad as telling Russia's state-run Rossiya-24 channel.
Assad also told Rossiya-24 that Syria would submit documents to the UN for an agreement governing the handover of its chemical arsenal, state-run Russian news agency RIA reported on Thursday.
Rossiya-24 did not immediately air the interview and it was not clear when it was recorded.