The US, UK and France on Tuesday joined diplomatic efforts to prevent military strikes against Syria under a Russian plan to take control of its stockpile of chemical weapons and destroy it.
The White House said the US has begun working with allies at the UN to explore and push the plan, which the Russians have said they will bring in the “near future”.
Obama discussed these efforts in phone calls to British prime minister David Cameron and French president Francois Hollande. “They agreed to work closely together, and in consultation with Russia and China, to explore seriously the viability of the Russian proposal to put all Syrian chemical weapons and related materials fully under international control in order to ensure their verifiable and enforceable destruction,” the White House said in a statement.
“These efforts will begin today at the United Nations, and will include a discussion on elements of a potential UN Security Council Resolution.”
In London, British prime minister David Cameron said the UK will be tabling a resolution with the US and France at the Security Council. It could be intended to test the Russian plan -- that it will lead to the destruction of Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons.
France had said earlier it was preparing to move a UN Security Council resolution that would make Syria’s surrender of its chemical weapons militarily enforceable.
A group of US lawmakers has also begun redrafting the authorization sough by the Obama administration fro military strikes to punish Syria for its use of chemical weapons.
They want the authorization to now give the Russian plan time.
The military option remains on the table though, with some officials arguing it was, in fact, the threat of strikes that forced Syria to yield, and agree to give up its chemical weapons.
Obama will be making a case for it once again in a nationally televised address later on Tuesday, hoping to sell it to a sceptical nation, which remains opposed to strikes, polls show.
Congressional hearings on the president’s request for authorization continued. The Senate was expected to vote on the proposal on Wednesday, but that may change now.