Obama backs UN discussion of Syria arms proposal

09/10/13 Associated Press
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Syria’s foreign minister announced today his country will declare its chemical weapons arsenal and sign chemical weapons convention.

The Syrian government has accepted a proposal from Russia, its most powerful ally, to give up its chemical weapons stockpile. France has announced that it plans to introduce a Security Council resolution to ensure international verification of the disarmament, but it might be opposed by Russia.

The White House said the U.S., France and Britain have agreed to work closely together, and in consultation with Russia and China, to seriously explore the viability of the proposal.

Secretary of State John Kerry told a House panel today that Syria must do more than just declare its chemical weapons stockpiles and sign the international treaty that bans them if it wants the effort to avert U.S. military strikes to work.

Kerry testified in the House to persuade members of the Armed Services Committee to back Obama's request for military action against Syria — a strike that could be avoided if Syria gives up its weapons. The president will address the nation in prime time tonight. The speech was planned to get Congressional authorization for military strike on Syria. But Kerry insists the bombing would not constitute an act of war.

The same House panel heard from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that in order for Syria to feel enough pressure to turn its chemical weapons over to international controls the U.S. must present a credible threat of military action.

In the Senate, senior congressional aides say a bipartisan group of senators is working on an alternative measure to a resolution authorizing U.S. military force against Syria.

Syria's main opposition bloc is urging the West to strike Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's regime despite the initiative to have Damascus surrender its chemical weapons to international control.

Today U.S. Senator Bill Nelson released a statement saying Congress should authorize a strike on Syria “to convince Assad he must surrender all his chemical weapons to international control.”

In Tampa peace groups are demonstrating every day through Saturday at the cornier of Dale Mabry Highway and Gandy Boulevard. You can find more information, including times, here.

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