Obama hopes Putin will change mind over Syria
Russian president warns US against military action in Syria, stating Russia would ‘react’
US president Barack Obama pauses while speaking about Syria during a joint news conference with Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt in Stockholm today. Photograph: Reuters
“Do I hold out hope that Mr Putin may change his position on some of these issues? I’m always hopeful, and I will continue to engage him,” Mr Obama told a news conference in Sweden.
Mr Obama added he had made appeals directly to Mr Putin on Syria, but so far he had resisted efforts to achieve UN Security Council action.
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Earlier Mr Putin warned the US against launching military action in Syria, stating that Russia had “plans” on how it would react if such a scenario unfolded.
In an interview with Russia’s state Channel 1 television, Mr Putin said it was too early to talk about what Russia would do if the US attacked Syria but added: “We have our ideas about what we will do and how we will do it in case the situation develops toward the use of force or otherwise. We have our plans.”
US senators will begin a series of votes this afternoon to authorise a 90-day window for US military action against Syria, as the Obama administration’s campaign to win over sceptics in Congress gained momentum.
Earlier, Mr Obama secured the backing of the Republican leadership at a key White House meeting.
Using a visit to Sweden to build his case for limited military action against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Mr Obama insisted that the international community could not remain silent in the face of the “barbarism” of the August 21st chemical weapons attack he blamed on Syrian government forces.
“My credibility is not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line,” Mr Obama told a news conference in Stockholm.
“And America and Congress’ credibility is on the line, because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important.”
Mr Obama’s comments came after Mr Putin offered a glimpse of potential international compromise over Syria today by declining to entirely rule out Russian backing for military action as he prepared to host a summit of world leaders.