President Obama tempered hopes Monday night about a diplomatic proposal for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons, saying “we don’t know the details of it yet,” and assuring that, “to paraphrase Ronald Reagan . . . we don’t just trust, but we also verify.”
President Obama’s remarks came hours after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged Syria to place its chemical weapons to international control in order to avoid a U.S. strike. Lavrov’s Syrian counterpart, Walid Moallem, welcomed the proposal. The White House tentatively approved of the idea Wednesday afternoon, saying that the United States would welcome Syria’s turning over its chemical arms and would take a “hard look” at the Russian proposal.
President Obama played down remarks made by President Assad in a recent interview describing potential Syrian retaliation in the event of U.S. strikes, saying that he didn’t find the threat “credible,” and Syria’s allies, Iran and Hezbollah, would also not strike the United States over an intervention.
The president also admitted public support isn’t yet there for his request for military authorization, saying, “If you ask the average person — including my household – ‘Do we need another military engagement?’ I think the answer generally is gonna be no.”