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September 11th, 2013
11:44 PM ET

Sen. Menendez reacts to Putin's op-ed: I wanted to vomit

The night before a high stakes diplomatic meeting in Geneva, where Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart will talk over a plan for stripping Syria of chemical weapons, The New York Times published an op-ed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In it, Putin says that there is "every reason to believe" it was the rebels, not regime forces, who used poison gas.

In his final paragraph, he referenced President Barack Obama's speech on Syria Tuesday night.

"I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States' policy is "what makes America different. It's what makes us exceptional." It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation," Putin wrote.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he first heard of and read Putin's op-ed while he was at dinner. He had a visceral reaction.

"I almost wanted to vomit," said Menendez. "I worry when someone who came up through the KGB tells us what is in our national interests, and what is not. It really raises the question of how serious the Russian proposal is."

Menendez would not go so far as to say Kerry, en route to Russia to discuss the diplomatic solution, is on a fool's errand.

"It would be foolish to slam the door on diplomacy," said Menendez. The validity and sincerity of the Russia proposal is questionable, "but we have to test it."

For more of this discussion with Senator Bob Menendez, click on the video above.

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