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Tuesday
Sep102013

President Obama Considering UN Deal on Syria

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- The Obama administration has begun discussing "elements of a potential U.N. Security Council resolution" on Syria's chemical weapons with other members of the international body, including China and Russia, officials said Tuesday.

The announcement followed a series of morning phone calls between President Obama and two close allies, French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron, on how to secure a "viable" solution to neutralize Syria's chemical weapon stockpiles.

Russia on Monday floated a plan to disarm the Bashar al-Assad regime of its chemical agents. It was met with cautious optimism by the U.S. and other allies as a way to avert an imminent American military strike.

The White House said the details of any potential U.N. agreement would be critical, with close attention given to putting "related materials fully under international control in order to ensure their verifiable and enforceable destruction."

An early French proposal tabled at the Security Council was dismissed by Russia as "unacceptable."

Instead, Russia plans to introduce its own draft resolution on the transfer of Syria's chemical weapons to international control and safeguard for their eventual destruction.

Earlier Tuesday, Syria's Foreign Minister said his country accepts Russia's plan to secure its chemical weapons as a way to "stave off American aggression."

Russia will soon present the details of the "feasible, clear, and concrete plan" that would also transfer the weapons to international control.

"We are going to announce this plan soon and we will be ready to fine tune and discuss it" with the international community, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the proposal when they met on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit Friday, according to the Kremlin.

Obama told ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer Monday that if Syria were to turn over its chemical weapons, it would "absolutely" halt his plans to strike inside Syria.

But he downplayed the Syrian response as only a "modestly positive development" and said there must be verification that Syria has followed through completely to end the threat posed by its formidable chemical weapons arsenal.

"If we can do that without a military strike, that is overwhelmingly my preference," the president said.

Obama said his threat to attack Syria paved the way for this diplomatic opportunity.

"I don't think we would have gotten to this point unless we had maintained a credible possibility for a military strike and I don't think now is the time for us to let up on that," Obama said.

But big questions remain on how such weapons would be secured, who would do it and how to verify that the Syrian government has turned over all the chemical weapons it has previously denied having.

Obama is scheduled to address the nation Tuesday night to make his case to a skeptical nation about his plans to strike Syria in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack outside Damascus Aug. 21. The United States says it has evidence that Syrian was behind the attack.

But Russia, Syria's most powerful ally, says it has evidence that the purported evidence was falsified and that rebel forces were to blame.

In light of the Russian proposal, the White House is reportedly changing what Obama plans to say in his address.

The Russian proposal has been widely welcomed by several major powers as an alternative to a U.S. strike, which was also struggling to receive support abroad.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio