President Obama will not insist on a United Nations resolution threatening the use of force against Syria if Damascus does not turn over its stockpile of chemical weapons, according to reports.
The White House telegraphed the president’s strategy Friday amid ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and Russia over a proposal to disarm Syria strongman Bashar Assad’s chemical arsenal to avert a threatened American military strike.
According to the reports from the Associated Press and New York Times, Obama is not ruling out a military strike. The president though believes that any resolution including such language would be vetoed by Russia on the Security Council. The president will reserve the right to strike Assad without UN support if Syria fails to follow through and hand over its chemical weapons.
Administration officials would not directly confirm the reports to the Washington Examiner.
"We are not going to pre-judge the outcome of negotiations that are just beginning in New York,” National Security Council Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said. “The United States has been clear that for any effort to be credible it must be verifiable and include consequences for noncompliance."
Obama on Friday said that any solution emerging from talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart needs to be “enforceable.”
“I shared with the emir my hope that the negotiations that are currently taking place between Secretary of State Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov in Geneva bear fruit,” the president said after an Oval Office meeting with Amir Sabah al-Sabah, of Kuwait. “But I repeated what I’ve said publicly, which is that any agreement needs to be verifiable and enforceable.”
Obama had sought congressional authorization for an attack on Syria to punish Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons on civilians last month. Assad has been battling rebel groups in a bloody two-year civil war.
Assad’s government and Russia, a longtime ally of Syria, insist the chemical attack was carried out by rebel groups.
Administration officials have declined to provide a timetable for the talks with Russia.
Kerry and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will continue negotiations for a third day in Geneva, Switzerland on Saturday.
Though Obama is not backing away from the threat of military force, he faces an uphill battle in convincing Congress to pursue such an action. Opposition hardened on Capitol Hill last week as Obama pushed for support.