Obama wants to try diplomacy, but backs targeted strike

Washington, September 11: US President Barack Obama told the Congress that he wants to give diplomacy a chance on the issue of Syria, but backed a limited and targeted military strike against the Assad regime with Congressional authorisation.

Hours ahead of his address to the nation, Obama drove down to the Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers on his assessment of the Syrian situation, and received inputs on his decision to go for a limited military strike against Assad regime.

The President said he wants to work on the Russian proposal to bring chemical weapons of Syria under international control, and simultaneously work with lawmakers on Congressional authorisation for a limited and targeted military strike against the Assad regime.

"The President said he'd decided it is in the core national security interests of the US to conduct a limited, targeted military strike, that doesn't involve putting boots on the ground, to enforce a long-held international prohibition against the use of chemical weapons," a White House official said following the meeting.

Obama, who spent more than an hour each in meetings with the Senate Democratic Caucus and the Senate Republican Conference in the US Capitol, said he was pleased by the seriousness of the public debate that had taken place in the aftermath of his decision to seek congressional authorisation for this limited military response.

"He indicated a desire to pursue diplomatic option that was put forward yesterday by the Russians, in response to the looming threat of the US military force against the Assad regime, and following on the President's discussion with (the Russian) President Putin in St Petersburg," the official said.

Obama told lawmakers that his administration will spend the days ahead pursuing this diplomatic option with the Russians and his allies at the UN, the official said.

"In the meantime, the President said his administration will work with members of Congress on authorising language. Doing so will further strengthen our diplomatic efforts," the official said after Obama's meetings at the Capitol Hill.

The US President drove down to the Capitol Hill amidst a flurry of diplomatic efforts at the international level with Russia proposing to bring the Syrian chemical weapons under international control, which received positive response from Syria, other countries and the US as well.

Following Obama's meetings at the Capitol Hill, Congressional leaders said they have agreed to delay a vote on the use of force in Syria.

"We're going to continue to work on moving forward with this, but keeping pronounced that the credible threat of our doing something about this attack is going to remain," Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, told reporters after the meeting.

"If something can be done diplomatically, I'm totally satisfied with that. I'm not a blood and thunder guy. I'm not for shock and awe. I think it's a situation where we have to be very calm and deliberate in what we do. "If things can be worked out with the international community to get these weapons out of the hands of this madman, then I think that's what we should do," Reid said. 

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