Subject: in-town pool report #2 — Syria quotes
Obama said he wanted to begin his remarks on the issue of Syria (check quotes against transcript). As many are aware, yesterday the U.S. and Russia were able to hammer out an agreement partnering with the P-5 and Security Council around Syria eliminating its chemical weapons and having them destroyed by the international community.
“This is something that we have long sought and the fact that we now have a framework that will be voted on perhaps as soon as today, perhaps over the weekend or Monday, that would be legally binding, that would be verifiable and enforceable, where there would be consequences for Syria’s failure to meet what has been set forth in this resolution, I think is a potentially huge victory for the international community.”
Realistically it is doubtful we would have arrived at this point had it not been for a credible threat of U.S. action in the aftermath of the tragedy of Aug. 21, where chemical weapons killed more than 1,000 people.
“But I have always expressed a preference for resolving this diplomatically” and appreciate international partners work to arrive at resolution that not only deters and prevents additional chemical use, but actually goes beyond what could have been accomplished through international action, which is the removal of chemical weapons.
It is also worth noting that in the Security Council resolution, there is an endorsement of the Geneva One process to try to deal with the underlying conflict in Syria and the need for a political transition there.
“So we are very hopeful about the prospects for what can be accomplished, but obviously there is a lot of work to be done,” Obama said. Rightly, people have been concerned about whether Syria will follow through on its commitments, as well as concerns about how to get chemical weapons out while still fighting on the ground.
“Nevertheless, this represents potentially a significant step forward and I think indicates what I had hoped for when I spoke at the United Nations just this week, that we have an international community that is not just gathering to talk, but also is able to take concerted action on behalf of enforcing international norms and preserving everybody’s security, including those in the region and obviously the people of Syria themselves,” Obama said.
Obama continued with remarks on his visit with Indian Prime Minister Singh (remarks to come). Singh spoke next, then pool was ushered out. Neither Obama nor Singh took any questions—several were shouted about potential for government shutdown.
White House reporter