Tuesday, May 7, 2013

 

Obama defends handling of Syrian conflict


WASHINGTON,- U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday defended his handling of the ongoing conflict in Syria, saying he will not make decisions about deeper involvement based on what he called "perceived" crossing of a red line he has set.

While addressing a joint press conference with President of the Republic of Korea Park Geun-hye following their White House meeting, Obama said evidence has pointed to the use of chemical weapons inside of Syria.

"But I don't make decisions based on 'perceived,' and I can't organize international coalitions around 'perceived,'" he stressed.

The American president has called time and again the use of or failure to secure chemical weapons by the Syrian government a "red line" or "game changer" in his handling of the conflict in the Middle East country.

He has asked for more facts to back up the intelligence assessment before taking further steps, while senior officials said in the past days the administration was moving toward providing weapons to the Syrian rebels, as demanded by some lawmakers.

"We want to make sure that, you know, we have the best analysis possible," Obama explained. "We want to make sure that we are acting deliberately."

"But I would just point out that there have been several instances during the course of my presidency where I said I was going to do something, and it ended up getting done," he said, citing the killing of Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaeda, in an operation carried out on Pakistani soil in May 2011, and the death of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in October that same year in U.S.-supported operations.

"In the end, whether it's bin Laden or Gaddafi, if we say we're taking a position, I would think at this point the international community has a pretty good sense that we typically follow through on our commitments," Obama said.

The U.S. president has vowed to take whatever "options on the table" to end the violence in Syria once he is certain about the use of chemical weapons.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Moscow on Tuesday trying to persuade Russia to stop its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who Washington and its allies say must step down to make way for a political transition in his country.

The Obama administration has until now limited its aid to the Syrian opposition to humanitarian and non-lethal assistance.

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