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President Meets With Congressional Leaders on Syria Response

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3, 2013 – President Barack Obama met with congressional leaders today and expressed confidence that lawmakers will authorize his plan to take action against the Assad regime for using chemical weapons against its own people.

The president said he thanked the leaders for approaching the issue of Syria “with the soberness and seriousness that it deserves.”

Obama said he has “high confidence” that Syria used chemical weapons that killed thousands of people, including more than 400 children in direct violation of international norm against using them. “That poses a serious national security threat to the United States and to the region, and as a consequence, Assad and Syria need to be held accountable,” he said.

The president said he has decided America should respond to the use of chemical weapons, but added that the response will be more effective and stronger “if we take action together as one nation.”

Hearings in the Senate and House will allow the administration to present the evidence that chemical weapons were used and the opportunity to discuss why it is important to hold Bashar Assad to account, the president said.

Chemical weapons can be transferred to terror groups and other non-state actors, Obama said. “Unless we hold them into account,” he added, “it also sends a message that international norms around issues like nuclear proliferation don’t mean much.”

Military plans for a U.S. response have been put in place and are proportional to the offense, the president said. Any U.S. response will be limited, and will “not involve boots on the ground,” he added.

“This is a limited, proportional step that will send a clear message not only to the Assad regime, but also to other countries that may be interested in testing some of these international norms, that there are consequences,” Obama said. “It gives us the ability to degrade Assad’s capabilities when it comes to chemical weapons.”

 

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