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Obama Prefers Diplomacy in Syria Chemical Weapons Deterrence

U.S. President Barack Obama says he "overwhelmingly" prefers diplomacy in deterring Syria's use of chemical weapons, as he continues to press Congress to support a military strike.

In a series of television interviews Monday, Mr. Obama expressed skepticism about a new Russian proposal to put Syria's chemical weapons stockpile under international control, but called the plan a potential breakthrough. He said it would not have materialized without the threat of military action.

Mr. Obama is continuing meetings with members of Congress on Tuesday before giving an evening televised address on the situation in Syria.

He acknowledged Monday there may not be enough support among lawmakers to pass a proposed measure authorizing U.S. military action. A Senate resolution would give Mr. Obama a maximum of 90 days to carry out an attack, but would not authorize the use of ground troops.

The Senate was due to hold a preliminary vote on Wednesday, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delayed the vote late Monday to give more time to consider the new Russian proposal.

Mr. Obama also noted that a majority of Americans do not want the U.S. to take military action, but he said he believes it is a matter of national security to ensure that bans against the use of chemical weapons are maintained.

The president said he had an impromptu chat with President Vladimir Putin last week at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia about the idea of securing Syria's chemical weapons. He has instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to talk to the Russians about specifics of the proposal.

Syria has welcomed the idea that it turn its chemical weapons over for destruction, to avoid a U.S. military strike. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also has endorsed the idea.