Obama says U.S. remains prepared to act on Syria if diplomacy fails

U.S. President Barack Obama meets Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, Kuwait's emir, in the Oval Office of the White House. Credit: Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama meets Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, Kuwait’s emir, in the Oval Office of the White House.
Credit: Reuters

President Barack Obama vowed on Saturday that Syria will be held to account if it fails to live up to its promises to surrender chemical weapons as he faced questions about how a deal brokered by U.S. and Russian diplomats would be enforced.

In a statement, Obama said a framework deal was an important, concrete step toward getting Syria’s chemical weapons under international control so they can ultimately be destroyed. The deal emerged from Geneva talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“While we have made important progress, much more work remains to be done,” said Obama.

Obama has been bombarded with criticism for his handling of Syria and a muddled message. First, he took U.S. forces to the brink of a military strike over an August 21 poison gas attack in Syria that Washington blames on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He then asked Congress to authorize the strike, but less than a week later requested lawmakers hold off on a vote to allow diplomacy more time.

He now faces questions about how the Syrian diplomatic deal will be enforced. Senior administration officials said on Friday the United States will not insist that the use of military force be included among the consequences Syria would face in a U.N. Security Council resolution being negotiated, in order to avoid a Russian veto.

Obama, in his statement, insisted that the United States “remains prepared to act” should diplomatic efforts fail.

But Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have sharply criticized Obama’s handling of Syria, said the deal is meaningless unless backed up with the threat of military force.

“It requires a willful suspension of disbelief to see this agreement as anything other than the start of a diplomatic blind alley,” they said.

But Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democratic minority in the House of Representatives, disagreed. She said the agreement will allow for enforcement under the U.N. charter’s Chapter 7, which covers the use of military force.

“The firm and united response agreed upon today to end Syria’s deadly use of chemical weapons was only made possible by a clear and credible threat of the use of force by the United States,” said Pelosi.

Obama said the United States will continue working with Russia, the United Kingdom, France, the United Nations and others to “ensure that this process is verifiable, and that there are consequences should the Assad regime not comply with the framework agreed today.”

“In part because of the credible threat of U.S. military force, we now have the opportunity to achieve our objectives through diplomacy,” he added.

U.S. forces were still positioned for possible military strikes on Syria.

“We haven’t made any changes to our force posture to this point,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement Saturday.

Obama, briefed on the results of the Geneva talks by his national security adviser, Susan Rice, said he had spoken to both Kerry and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who will lead U.S. efforts on the U.N. negotiations.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

Season 11’s top four dancers gave their final performances before America’s Favorite Dancers are announced next week.

Going Out

Labor Day in NYC: Make the last weekend…

Soon, it’ll be time for wool accessories and knee-high boots. Even the Pumpkin Spice Latte has already arrived — but we still have one last…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…

NFL

Mario Manningham on the bubble as Giants play…

Former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham hopes his second go-around with Big Blue doesn’t end with Saturday’s final cut day.

NFL

Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.