Obama: Russia plan for Syria chem arms 'potentially positive'
US President Barack Obama said Monday that a Russian plan for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons was "potentially positive" and pledged to take it seriously.
But, in a CNN interview, Obama warned against any stalling tactics from Syria, and said the fact there was any talk of a diplomatic way out of the crisis was only down to his administration's threats of military action.
"It is a potentially positive development," Obama said of the Russian plan, as he gave interviews to six television anchors as part of a fierce push to win backing from Congress on strikes against Syria.
"I have to say that it's unlikely we would have arrived at that point where there were even public statements like that without a credible military threat."
The president said he had asked his Secretary of State John Kerry to work with Russia to see if Moscow's suggestion of a deal, which would see Syrian chemical weapons placed under international supervision, was possible.
"This is a continuation of conversations I've had with President Putin for quite some time," Obama told PBS.
"If we can exhaust these diplomatic efforts and come up with a formula that gives the international community a verifiable, enforceable mechanism to deal with these chemical weapons in Syria, then I'm all for it."
Obama admitted in another interview with NBC News that he was not yet certain that he would win congressional backing for a new US military venture in the Middle East.
"I wouldn't say I'm confident," Obama said.
"I'm confident that the members of Congress are taking this issue very seriously and they're doing their homework and I appreciate that."
© 2013 AFP