Syria’s foreign minister said Tuesday that President Bashar Assad has accepted a Russian proposal to turn over control of Syria’s chemical weapons, potentially opening the door to defusing a stand-off with the United States as President Obama indicates he’s willing to give the “diplomatic track” a try.

According to the Associated Press, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Tuesday after meeting with the Russian Parliament speaker that his government’s officials quickly agreed to the Russian initiative to “derail the U.S. aggression.”

At the same time, conventional weapons were still being used to pound Syria’s people, demonstrating that a settlement to the bloody civil war could still be a long way off. The AP released authenticated images on Tuesday showing smoke rising from buildings in a district of Damascus after heavy shelling.

The developments could nevertheless dramatically alter the nature of the national address Obama plans to give on Tuesday night. He had been planning to make the case for a military strike, but in the last 24 hours has eased off that call amid budding international negotiations.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also postponed a test vote originally teed up for Wednesday on whether to authorize the use of force. Reid cited “international discussions” in his decision.