Obama sees potential 'breakthrough' in Russia's Syria proposal
Russia and Syria embraced Secretary of State John F. Kerry's suggestion Monday that the Syrian government could avert a U.S. attack by placing its chemical weapons under international control, upending the Obama administration's efforts to sharpen its case for military action.
U.S. officials said Kerry's comment, made in response to a question at a news conference in London, was not intended to be a diplomatic opening. But Kerry's Russian and Syrian counterparts quickly followed up, and the idea drew immediate interest internationally and from top Democrats in Washington.
By the end of the day, President Obama conceded that the idea of monitoring and ultimately destroying Syria's arsenal "could potentially be a significant breakthrough." The Senate postponed a vote scheduled for Wednesday on whether to back a proposed punitive strike.
"I think you have to take it with a grain of salt, initially," Obama said in an interview with NBC that was among several he gave Monday in pursuit of public backing for a military strike in response to an alleged Aug. 21 gas attack on Syrian civilians.
"We are going to run this to ground," Obama said. "We're going to make sure that we see how serious these proposals are."
The president plans to address the nation Tuesday evening in a speech originally planned to be the capstone of a newly focused moral and political case to rally a skeptical public and reluctant lawmakers.
The timing of the new proposal was awkward and its apparent genesis perhaps more so.http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/john-kerry-in-london-campaigns-for-world-to-support-military-strike-against-syria/2013/09/09/e8ad7a72-193d-11e3-80ac-96205cacb45a_print.html