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Obama could halt Syria attack plans if Assad turns over CWs

Washington, Sep 10, 2013 (PTI) 12:22 IST
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US President Barack Obama, unsure of getting enough Congressional support on Syria, today said he would "absolutely" put on hold a possible military strike if the Bashar al-Assad regime agrees to place its chemical weapons stockpile under international control.

Obama, said that he was looking skeptically, but seriously, at a Russian offer to push the Syrian government to put its vast chemical weapons arsenal and infrastructure under international control.

He called the development a "potentially significant breakthrough."

"If Syrian President gives up his chemical weapons, a military strike would absolutely be on pause," Obama told ABC News.

"Absolutely, if, in fact, that happened," the President said when asked if the military strike was on pause if Assad yields control of his chemical weapons to international authority.

"That's in our national security interest. If we can do that without a military strike, that is overwhelmingly my preference. And now the key is, can we see a sense of urgency?" Obama said.

"I don't think that we would have gotten to this point unless we had maintained a credible possibility of a military strike, and I don't think now is the time for us to let up on that," Obama, said asserting that he wants to make sure that the norm against use of chemical weapons is maintained.

Asserting that he always preferred for a diplomatic resolution to the Syrian crisis, Obama said, "I fervently hope that this can be resolved in a non-military way."

The US President also said he was not confident enough of getting Congressional support on the issue.

"I wouldn't say I'm confident. I'm confident that the members of Congress are taking this issue very seriously and they're doing their homework. And I appreciate that," Obama told the NBC news in another interview.

The President said he has not decided on going for the military strike without Congressional authorisation.

Obama, in separate interviews to six news channels on the issue of Syria yesterday, said he would take a final decision after talking to American people directly.Obama's comments came as he faced stiff resistance from the opposition Republican Senators and scepticism from his own Democrats, forcing the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to postpone the vote on military intervention in Syria.

According a media report, Obama could fall short of 50 votes needed to get Senate authorisation for a military strike against the Assad regime in Syria.

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