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US military action if Syria diplomacy fails: Obama

world Updated: Sep 14, 2013 19:08 IST
Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama today said he was willing to give diplomacy a chance to resolve the Syrian crisis, but warned the military option was still on the table.

Referring to US secretary of state John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov's talks in Geneva on brigning the Syrian chemical stockpile under international watch, Obama said, "We're making it clear that this can't be a stalling tactic."

The talks began after Russia's surprise initiative to finalise an agreement on eliminating Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons.

Kerry and Lavrov today reached an agreement on a framework for Syria to destroy its chemical weapons within a fixed time.

Obama said despite all these positive developments, the US is not just going to take Russia and Syria's word for it.

"And since this plan emerged only with a credible threat of US military action, we will maintain our military posture in the region to keep the pressure on the Assad regime," he said.

"If diplomacy fails, the US and the international community must remain prepared to act," Obama said in his weekly address.

Syria has signalled a willingness to join 189 other countries in abiding by an international agreement that prohibits the use of chemical weapons and Russia has "staked its own credibility on supporting this outcome", he added.

The Russian plan has led Obama to put on hold planned military strikes in response to an August 21 chemical attack that Washington blames on the al-Assad regime and which allegedly killed more than 1,400 people.

"We need to see concrete actions to demonstrate that Assad is serious about giving up his chemical weapons," Obama said.

"Any agreement needs to verify that the Assad regime and Russia are keeping their commitments: that means working to turn Syria's chemical weapons over to international control and ultimately destroying them," he said.

"This would allow us to achieve our goal - deterring the Syrian regime from using chemical weapons, degrading their ability to use them, and making it clear to the world that we won't tolerate their use."