Weekly Address: Pursuing a Diplomatic Solution in Syria

The President:
This week, when I addressed
the nation on Syria, I said that – in part
because of the credible threat of U.S. military force – there is the possibility
of a diplomatic solution. Russia has indicated
a new willingness to join with the international community in pushing Syria to
give up its chemical weapons, which the Assad regime
used in an attack that killed more than
1,000 people on August 21. I also asked Congress to
postpone a vote on the use of military force while we
pursue this diplomatic path. And that’s what we’re doing. At my direction,
Secretary of State Kerry is in discussions
with his Russian counterpart. But we’re making it clear that
this can’t be a stalling tactic. Any agreement needs to verify
that the Assad regime and Russia are keeping their commitments: that means working to turn
Syria’s chemical weapons over to international control and ultimately
destroying them. This would allow us
to achieve our goal – deterring the Syrian regime
from using chemical weapons, degrading their
ability to use them, and making it clear to the world that we won’t
tolerate their use. We’ve seen indications
of progress. As recently as a week ago, the Assad regime
would not admit that it possessed
chemical weapons. Today, it does. Syria has signaled a willingness
to join with 189 other nations, representing
98 percent of humanity, in abiding by
an international agreement that prohibits the use
of chemical weapons. And Russia has staked
its own credibility on supporting this outcome. These are all
positive developments. We’ll keep working with
the international community to see that Assad
gives up his chemical weapons so that they can be destroyed. We will continue
rallying support from allies around the world who agree on
the need for action to deter the use
of chemical weapons in Syria. And if current discussions
produce a serious plan, I’m prepared to move
forward with it. But we are not just
going to take Russia and Assad’s word for it. We need to see concrete actions
to demonstrate that Assad is serious about giving up
his chemical weapons. And since this plan emerged only with a credible threat
of U.S. military action, we will maintain our
military posture in the region to keep the pressure
on the Assad regime. And if diplomacy fails, the United States and
the international community must remain prepared to act. The use of chemical weapons
anywhere in the world is an affront to human dignity and a threat to the security
of people everywhere. As I have said for weeks, the international community
must respond to this outrage. A dictator must not be allowed to gas children in
their beds with impunity. And we cannot risk poison gas becoming the new
weapon of choice for terrorists and
tyrants the world over. We have a duty to preserve
a world free from the fear of chemical weapons
for our children. But if there is any chance
of achieving that goal without resorting to force, then I believe we
have a responsibility to pursue that path. Thank you.

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