U.S. President Barack Obama has welcomed the agreement the U.S. reached with Russia Saturday on a framework for eliminating Syria's chemical weapons, calling it "an important, concrete step."
But the president says there is much more work to be done. In a statement Saturday, he said the United States will continue working with Russia and other allies to ensure the process is verifiable, and that there are consequences if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government does not comply.
Mr. Obama reiterated a line from his weekly address Saturday that if diplomacy fails, the U.S. remains prepared to act.
The Obama administration blames the Syrian government for an August 21 chemical weapons attack that reportedly killed more than 1,400 Syrians. Mr. Obama pushed for military action against the government in response, but has put that on hold while pursuing this diplomatic path.
But the president said in his address, recorded Friday, that the U.S. is making clear that the Russian-led initiative for a diplomatic solution cannot be a "stalling tactic." He said Mr. Assad must take "concrete actions" to demonstrate he is serious about giving up his chemical weapons.
Mr. Obama said the possibility of a diplomatic solution is due in part to the "credible threat of U.S. military force," noting that Mr. Assad's regime would not admit to possessing chemical weapons a week ago, but "today, it does."
Meanwhile, in this week's Republican address, Representative Diane Black of Tennessee called on the Senate to pass a bill to prevent fraud and abuse in Mr. Obama's health care reform law.