Obama agrees to explore diplomatic route on Syria crisis
Washington: President Obama today told war-weary Americans that he wants to give diplomacy a chance to avoid military strikes on Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons, but asked his military to be ready to respond if negotiations fail.
In a televised address from the White House's East Room, Obama termed the Russian proposal to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control as an "encouraging" sign and said US and Russian officials would discuss about the initiative.
Obama, in his 16-minute somber address, said that he would also discuss it with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been opposing any military action against Syria without UN approval.
Obama also asked the Senate to put off a vote on his request for an authorisation of military force to let the diplomacy play out. He set no timetables for action, but said any deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would require verification that he keeps his word.
His speech was planned as Obama's final push to win support from a sceptical public and Congress for his planned attack on Syria for what his administration calls a major chemical weapons attack on August 21 that killed more than 1,400 people in suburban Damascus.
Calling the US "the anchor of global security," Obama offered moral, political and strategic arguments for being ready to launch limited military strikes while trying to negotiate a diplomatic solution.
However, he asserted that America is not the world's policeman and asked Americans to support him as "Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong.
"But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act.
That's what makes America different. That's what makes us exceptional."
Obama said that he has asked his military to continue maintaining its aggressive posture in the region pending a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis.
"I've ordered our military to maintain their current posture, to keep the pressure on Assad and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails," he said.