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Obama: Congress, world credibility on the line with Syria

11:23 AM, Sep 4, 2013   |    comments
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President Obama said on Wednesday that international credibility is on the line with how the world responds to Syrian leader Bashar Assad's suspected use of chemical weapons.

"My credibility is not on the line," Obama said. "International credibility is on the line."

He added: "The question is, how credible is the international community when it says this is an international norm that has to be observed? The question is how credible is Congress when it passes a treaty saying we have to forbid the use of chemical weapons?"

The comments came during a news conference in Stockholm, where he is meeting with Sweden's Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt before heading to the G-20 summit in Russia, where he is expected to continue his push for international support of a military strike in response to a suspected chemical attack by the Assad regime two weeks ago.Congress when it passes a treaty saying we have to forbid the use of chemical weapons?"

Obama's visit marks the first bilateral visit by a U.S. president to Sweden.

The two leaders are discussing economic issues, trade and climate change, and Obama said he also updated Reinfeldt on his pursuit of congressional authorization for a military strike against Syria

Reinfeldt, while saying that those behind the chemical attack in Syria should be held responsible, expressed his country's stance that any action should be taken under the auspices of the United Nations -- something that is unlikely since Russia has blocked any potential U.N. Security Council mandated action against the Assad regime.

Obama said he respects the U.N. process and said the U.N. investigators who gathered evidence in the area of the suspected attack did "heroic work."

"We believe that chemical weapons were used," he said, adding that he has high confidence Assad was the source.

Members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee hammered out a deal on Tuesday evening that would set a 60-day deadline for military action in Syria, with one 30-day extension possible. The committee is expected to vote on the resolution on Wednesday.

Obama's hope of winning congressional backing for a military strike against Syria received a huge lift on Tuesday when two top House Republicans announced their support for taking military action against Syria

Both House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., endorsed Obama's call for action against Assad's regime following a meeting with Obama and other lawmakers at the White House on Tuesday.

Obama was asked on Wednesday what he would do if congress rejects his call for use-of-force authorization.

"I believe that Congress will approve it," Obama said.

He also defended his earlier statement that the use of chemical weapons by Syria was a "red line" that Assad must not cross.

"That's not something I just made up. I didn't pluck it out of thin air." Obama said, referring to international standards prohibiting the use of chemical weapons in combat. "I didn't set a red line. The world set a red line."

Obama decided to make the visit to Sweden ahead of the G-20 summit after scratching a trip to Moscow. He canceled a meeting there with Russian President Vladimir Putin as disagreements increased over the Syria situation and Russia's decision to give former NSA contractor Edward Snowden temporary asylum.

USA Today

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