Obama seeks international support
Sep 3, 2013 / 7:57 pm
President Barack Obama this week plans to urge reluctant world leaders to support a U.S.-led military strike against Syria as he attends a global summit in Russia and makes a stop in Sweden. His three-day overseas trip comes as his administration seeks authorization from Congress.
Before he departed Tuesday night, Obama urged lawmakers meeting with him at the White House to support his plan to punish Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons to attack its own people. The president won the backing of House Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, though that hardly guarantees support in the fractured House of Representatives.
Obama's presence at the Group of 20 gathering in Russia is bound to bring questions about Syria, recently leaked U.S. surveillance programs and especially his tense relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, an ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
"It's been like watching a slow-moving train wreck for nearly two years," Andrew Kuchins, a Russia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said of the Obama-Putin relationship. "Mr. Putin and Mr. Obama don't like each other at all."
That's not Obama's only headache.
His surprise announcement over the weekend that he would seek congressional authorization for a military strike against Syria, instead of going ahead with a strike as many expected, may have caused doubts among world leaders about his willingness to follow up on his threats to rogue nations.
His administration argues that the strike is needed in response to what it says was a deadly chemical weapons attack last month.
Before his White House meeting Tuesday with top lawmakers, Obama said he is confident he will be able to work with Congress to pass a resolution authorizing the strike on Syria. Obama said congressional authorization must send a clear message to Assad and hamper his ability to use chemical weapons.
After the meeting, Boehner said he would support Obama's call for action against Syria and said his party colleagues should, too.
Votes in the House and the Senate are expected next week, just after Obama ends his overseas trip. He leaves for Sweden later Tuesday.
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