Tags: Syria | obama | russian | deal

Report: Obama to Say in Speech He's Considering Russian Deal

Tuesday, 10 Sep 2013 08:01 PM

By Greg Richter

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President Barack Obama will say in his address to the nation Tuesday night that he his pursuing the proposal from Russia to get rid of Syria's chemical weapons, NBC News reports.

NBC quoted a senior administration official as saying that Obama had updated his planned remarks, which were to focus on convincing a skeptical public on the need for a military strike.

The change was spurred by a flurry of diplomatic activity that began early Monday morning when Secretary of State John Kerry off-handedly noted that Syrian President Bashar Assad could avoid a U.S. attack, perhaps, if he decided to give the country's chemical weapons over to international authorities.

Painting military action as an option rather than necessity could help the White House avoid the embarrassment of a no-vote from Congress, which was becoming more and more likely, NBC noted.

Obama discussed the offer earlier Tuesday in Capitol Hill meetings with Senate Republicans and Democrats, USA Today reported. He also spoke with leaders of France and Great Britain about whether the solution was viable.

Russia's plan was put together after Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov heard Kerry's answer to a reporter's question and contacted Russian ally Syria. Syria responded positively to the proposal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told a group of reporters that his country would only agree to the plan if the United States vows not to use military force. But Obama told Senators in Tuesday's meetings that a military option must remain on the table.

The stakes are high for Obama, who also will try to persuade war-weary Americans that any U.S. military action contemplated by his administration against Syria would be limited in scope and duration.

Obama also will explain to Americans why it is in U.S. national security interests for Syria to face consequences for an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that U.S. officials say killed 1,429 people.

Obama and his national security advisers say to do nothing in response to the poison gas onslaught would risk emboldening U.S. enemies to try to gain access to chemical weapons and use them against American targets.

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