News / USA

Obama Leaves Door Open for Diplomatic Solution on Syria

Obama: Syria Could Prevent Airstrikes by Turning Over Chemical Weaponsi
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September 10, 2013 3:21 PM
President Barack Obama says a proposal to put Syrian chemical weapons under international control could prevent U.S. military strikes on Syria. As VOA’s Kent Klein reports from the White House, the president has been making his case for military strikes to Congress and the American people after Syria’s alleged chemical attack on civilians.

"Obama: Syria Could Prevent Airstrikes by Turning Over Chemical Weapons" - related video report by Kent Klein

U.S. President Barack Obama says a negotiated diplomatic solution on Syria is still possible as long as it produces a verifiable and enforceable way to deal with Syrian chemical weapons.  Mr. Obama spoke on the eve of a televised address Tuesday to the American people. 

The president gave interviews to major television networks as he prepares to appeal directly to the public about his plans for a limited military strike to degrade the chemical weapons capabilities of Syria's government.

On the Public Broadcasting Service NewsHour, Mr. Obama said again there is no doubt about Syrian government responsibility for the August 21 chemical attack that the U.S. and its allies say killed at least 1,400 people.

But he said a Russian proposal for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons stockpiles to the international community offers some hope of heading off the need for military action.

"I have instructed [Secretary of State] John Kerry to talk directly to the Russians and run this to ground, and if we can exhaust these diplomatic efforts and come up with a formula that gives the international community a verifiable, enforceable mechanism to deal with these chemical weapons in Syria, then I am all for it, but we are going to have to see specifics,"  Mr. Obama said.

Despite intense personal lobbying, Mr. Obama still faces an uphill battle convincing lawmakers and their constituents that military action would not entangle the U.S. in the Syrian civil war or a wider regional conflict.

Americans are horrified by the chemical attack in Syria, but polls show strong national sentiment against a military strike.

Mr. Obama said Americans are understandably wary about military action "in the absence of some direct threat" against the United States, especially after U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

But he told PBS he will use his address on Tuesday to make the case that action is necessary for long-term U.S. national security interests.

"But I believe I can make a very strong case to Congress as well as the American people about why we can't leave our children a world in which other children are being subjected to nerve gas," he said.  "And that it is in our interest, if we can take a limited step that makes a meaningful difference, it is worth it for us to do that.  And I firmly believe that."

In an interview with ABC News, Mr. Obama called the diplomatic proposal a "modestly positive development," but said it is important to maintain pressure. He said he wants to see "with a sense of urgency" language for a plan that is enforceable and verifiable.

Earlier, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said failure to respond would undermine U.S. credibility and embolden others such as Iran and North Korea.

"The decision our nation makes in the coming days is being watched in capitals around the world, especially in Tehran and Pyongyang," she said. "They're watching to see whether the United States will stand up for the world we're trying to build for our children and future generations."

President Obama received support Monday from former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who referred to the Russian proposal for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons to international control.

"As was suggested by Secretary Kerry and the Russians, that would be an important step," she said. " But this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction, and Russia has to support the international community's efforts sincerely, or be held to account."

Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken says the United States is "taking a hard look" at the diplomatic proposal.

"We are going to take a hard look at this, we will talk to the Russians about it, but it is very important to note that it is clear that this proposal comes in the context of the threat of U.S. action and the pressure that the president is exerting," he said.

The White House says it will continue to seek congressional authorization, even while reviewing the diplomatic proposal for Syria to give up control of its chemical weapons.

President Obama dropped in to a briefing at the White House for House of Representatives lawmakers, and is scheduled to go to Capitol Hill Tuesday to make another direct appeal to skeptical lawmakers.

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by: Sillo Mboweni from: South Africa
September 11, 2013 6:44 PM
What about the illegal state of israel they have used a far more lethal chemical weapons/gases against the Palestinians in Gaza. I will not be amazed they have used it in Syria and put the blame on Syria. They got Bush and Blair to attack Iraq without any facts. Now Obama is pressured to do the same (how stupid are Kerry and Obama). Get the illegal jews out of the land of Palestine and you will see the peace that will come over the world.


by: Exit Strategy
September 11, 2013 2:27 PM
Some very smart talking by the Russians, who seized upon John Kerry's offer. The entire Congressional voting process has now been on hold, whilst the Russians work out their terms for acceptance by the USA and this could be an extremely lengthy process with no time limit set and create a dangerous precedent.


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
September 11, 2013 3:28 AM
I think Putin is more skillful than Obama in politics. It is clear this proposal from Russia was argued with Syria beforehand and Syria would turn over its chemical weapons excluding sarin if it actually has. Additionally, the U.S. has no way to examine if the chemical weapons turned over was all of what Syria possesses. After all, it would not be disclosed who killed hundreds of people with sarin and those victims never come back alive. Not forgetting, there is no testimoney rebells has no sarin. Both the U.S. and Syria look to accept Russian proposal and this dealings would end up in Syrian and Russian win.Thank you.


by: Trojan Horse
September 10, 2013 12:28 PM
What about those Russian missiles that were allegedly going to be delivered to Syria. What about safeguards on the proliferation of these weapons, which could be used to against other countries or even used against the USA. The Russian President has not commented on this deal, much like the Cuban missile crisis. This deal is VERY suspect to say the least.


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 10, 2013 10:27 AM
I watched Mr. President last night and saw him beaming with cheers over the leeway that Russia is taking the driving seat over Syria troubles. His joy was that Russia has proposed Syria should hand in "all" its chemical weapons to the international community. What an illusion! And how can a president depend on that as a way forward. How much is "all" to the Russians and to the rest of the world? Shows his initial fears to approach Syria, Russia and Iran in a war. Not the kind of President USA wants. Why not hand over to the churches? Mr. Kerry spoke like a man; he gave a mandate. Susan Rice spoke with authority; she demanded it with deadlines, " But this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction, and Russia has to support the international community's efforts sincerely, or be held to account." How I wish she was the president ! She can even look Russia in the eyes and give it an ultimatum. These are the people retain some trace respect for USA in the comity of nations.

In Response

by: Plain Mirror Intl from: Plain Planet-Africa
September 11, 2013 4:19 AM
Godwin my brother, history has shown and proven that the US military interventions never yielded any positive results. NEVER!! How is Iraq after Sadam? How is Libya after Ghadaffi? How is Afghanistan today? These are questions you have to ask yourself. When a particular method proves abortive, you try another stratagy. That is exactly what Obama is doing.

Secondly, when method changes, the repeated immergence of bebellious groups would reduce. Rebellious groups are the cause of many problems in Middle east and Africa today. The truth remains that they don't even make any good governance let alone better governance that the ones they rebelled against. Power change is good and Democracy is also good, but when democracy is pursued in "po-po and dum-dum" sounds, the later consequencies remain security challanges and crimes as a result of the society being awashed with weapons. I very much support Obama's moves. Obama is working on the scale, weighing and balancing, allow and encourage him. Diplomacy remains the ideal answer to Syria problem.


by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
September 10, 2013 4:51 AM
We are living in a modern era, and America will not condom such a vicious act. this kind of behavior is unacceptable. Assad is a murder and he should be brought to justice. He is a war criminal, and those kids of Syria desire Justice. Assad needs to be on trail at the Hague. Secondly, there is no way that we will bomb Assad without boots on the ground, we need boots on the ground. Cuz this going to be a dirty war, make no mistake about that. Assad will retaliate, and if there is no boots on the ground, Assad will kill the Syrian people. We must get Assad, it is a matter of must. You cannot leave such a man in power. if you listen to his interviewed with Charles Rose, Assad meant what he and Iran has been saying for a while. So if the world and the American people don't take Assad serious, well we get something coming for us. I love Israel, Israel don't take nobody mess. So we ask the American public to rethink and reconsider their decision. We must get Assad out. this man posed a threat to your way of life, and he must go. God Bless America, God Bless President Obama

In Response

by: Plain Mirror Intl from: Plain Planet- Africa
September 11, 2013 4:29 AM
Godwin, the use of chemical weapon remains alleged mind you. The desperate rebels can do anything to implicate Assad. Do you purnish your child or your ward without prove of his/her crime? If you do then surrender yourself for child abuse. The use of chemical weapon in Syria is the same as the use of other weapons because in all death remains equal to death. How do the blood shed in Syria be stopped and stability and security restored in Syria? The question is still on the table unanswered.

In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 10, 2013 10:42 AM
Leroy Padmore, don't say God bless Obama, because he counts among the people who don't want Assad to leave - forget that he hypes on going to war. Again, we know Assad's and Iran's threat are real, but they are ranting of the ant when real action is called for. They cannot do more than they have been doing - terrorism - but the fear is in handing the country over to other terrorists in the area who are as deadly as Iran and Hezbollah together. They mean no good to anyone, least of all to Israel. To leave Syria in their hands is where the trouble is. It must not be allowed. At the same time Assad must not be allowed to continue, because he has learned how to use chemical weapons and go free with it, courtesy of Russia. Since he has tried it once and Mr. Obama has let him go with it, he will try it again, maybe pushing his luck harder. God bless Israel and the City of David.


by: Anonymous
September 10, 2013 2:49 AM
Obama Leaves Door Open for Diplomatic Solution on Syria???
Hasnt the door been open for 2.5 yrs???

The worlds biggest concerns are his chemical weapons to be removed from Syria immediatly. Then save the people!!!

Every day more and more people are dieing and more and more Syrians are calling for assad to be attacked by the west for his crimes... He has bumped up bombing runs all over Syria knowing he has limited time now.


by: Milly from: NYU
September 09, 2013 11:24 PM
LOL... Obama... you made us look like the Hutto and the Tuttu


by: Doris Loadburp from: UK
September 09, 2013 9:57 PM
You would have to be an absolute BUFFOON, not to know, or to deny the ON RECORD FACT, that the CIA runs, fund$, and trains Al Qaeda. WAKE UP PEOPLE, WAKE UP!!!!!


by: Cindy from: Los Angeles
September 09, 2013 9:44 PM
Prepare yourself for ANOTHER FALSE FLAG attack staged by the CIA/FBI to try to salvage Obama's credibility. It's been done many times before.......................

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