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Obama hails Russian proposal on Syrian chemical weapons

by fwire  Sep 10, 2013 07:00 IST

Washington, Sep 10 (IANS) US President Barack Obama Monday welcomed a Russian proposal to put Syrian chemical weapons under international control, saying it is a "potentially positive development", and could lead to a "breakthrough" on the crisis.

He, however, warned the proposal should not be used as a stalling tactic, Xinhua reported.

In multiple interviews with TV networks, Obama said he would prefer to have a diplomatic solution to the crisis instead of launching military attack, alluding he would put the strike against Syria on hold if the Syrian government were to turn over control of its chemical weapons.

"(Secretary of State) John Kerry and the rest of my national security team will engage with the Russians and the international community to see can we arrive at something that is enforceable and serious," said Obama.

Obama,however, said he remained skeptical that Syria would turn over its chemical weapons, and would take the statements coming out of Syrian government officials in support of the Russian proposal "with a grain of salt".

The president also said his administration would engage in talks with Russia and Syria. "We're going to run this to ground," he told CNN, one of the six networks that interviewed him Monday afternoon.

"We don't want just a stalling or delaying tactic to put off the pressure that we have on them right now," he told NBC.

Obama also said the proposal is actually not new to him, as he had been talking with Russian President Vladimir Putin about such a settlement, including during the G20 summit last week in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made the proposal earlier in the day, asking Syria to "place its chemical weapons stockpiles under international control so they can be destroyed". The proposal was met with positive response from Syria.

The Obama administration is seeking Congressional approval for a military strike to punish Syria.

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