WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — From Capitol Hill to the United Nations, a flurry of talks has erupted around a possible diplomatic solution in Syria.
But as CBS News’ Tara Mergener reported Wednesday, President Barack Obama said the nation needs to be ready to act if a deal falls through.
While military strikes are on hold for now, U.S. lawmakers and the United Nations have been working on a plan offered by Russia that would require Syrian leader Bashar Assad to turn over his stockpile of chemical weapons.
“I think what the Russians have proposed may turn out to be the best thing to come out of Russia since vodka,” said U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)
But some doubt remains, CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported.
“I am extremely skeptical, and I hope I’m wrong,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said of Russia’s offer.
Obama said the plan still needs to include the threat of military action if Assad does not comply.
“If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons,” Obama said.
Assad has continued to deny that his soldiers gassed civilians last month.
United Nations human rights investigators said Syrian forces have carried out several massacres, but could not confirm the use of chemical weapons.
Members of Congress have been working on the plan that Russia first proposed. Lawmakers face the challenge of trying to reach a solution as diplomatic talks continue and details change.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will sit down with his Russian counterpart Thursday. Kerry said it will not be easy to enforce the handover of chemical weapons in Syria.
“That has to be real, measurable, tangible, and it is exceedingly difficult,” Kerry said. “I want everyone here to know to fulfill those conditions.”
The U.S. and Russia already disagree on a major point. Russian President Vladimir Putin wants the U.S. to take military enforcement off the table.
“The credible threat of U.S. military force brought us the diplomatic opening,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Russia is also rejecting a push from the U.S. and France for a U.N. Security Council resolution to verify that Syria has handed over all of its chemical weapons.
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