Obama encouraged by talks on Syria
Sep 6, 2013 / 7:22 am
President Barack Obama said Friday he's encouraged by talks with foreign leaders over how to respond to chemical weapons use in Syria and plans to make his case to the American people in an address Tuesday night.
Obama told reporters at the end of a two-day Group of 20 economic summit that he and other leaders had had a "full airing of views on the issue" and there was a growing recognition that "the world cannot stand idly by."
He said many foreign nations will be issuing statements on their positions, but he didn't say whether any specifically had joined France in supporting his move toward U.S. military strikes.
He said the leaders are unanimous in believing that chemical weapons were used in Syria and that international norms against that use must be maintained. He said division comes over how to proceed through the United Nations.
Obama also held a surprise meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a chief opponent of U.S. military action. Putin, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, said this discussion with Obama focused on Syria during the 20 to 30 minutes and that, while they disagreed, the meeting was "substantial and constructive."
The meeting came Friday as Obama sought to build international backing for military action. But three days after he left Washington, it's unclear whether the global coalition the president has been seeking is any closer to becoming a reality.
Putting up stiff resistance to Obama's appeals, Russia on Friday warned the United States and its allies against striking any chemical weapon storage facilities in Syria. The Russian foreign ministry said such targeting could release toxic chemicals and give militants or terrorist access to chemical weapons.
"This is a step toward proliferation of chemical weapons not only across the Syrian territory but beyond its borders," the Russian statement said.
Moreover, China remained a firm no. The European Union is skeptical about whether any military action can be effective. Even Pope Francis weighed in, urging leaders gathered here to abandon what he called a "futile mission."
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