Obama: Syria Chemical Weapon Surrender Could Be 'Breakthrough'
Would 'absolutely' pause military strike if it works
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2013 6:05 PM CDT
President Barack Obama speaks at a G-20 Summit press conference in St. Petersburg, Russia.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

(Newser) – Obama has weighed in on the Russian proposal to get Syria to surrender its stockpile of chemical weapons, calling it both a "potentially positive development" and a possible "breakthrough"—but only if it's a genuine offer. The move comes after Hillary Clinton also made cautiously positive comments about the idea, as did John Kerry—though he later tried to back away from them. Like Clinton, Obama says in an interview with CNN that he doesn't believe Russia and Syria would have made this gesture had the US not threatened to retaliate in the first place. But, he says in a separate interview with ABC News, if the plan does work, he would "absolutely" pause the military strike.

"We're going to run this to ground," Obama tells CNN, saying he and Kerry will work with Russia and others to "see if we can arrive at something that is enforceable and serious." Obama acknowledges that removing every last chemical weapon from Syria won't end the country's civil war, "but it does solve the problem that I'm trying to focus on right now, which is making sure that you don't have over 400 children gassed indiscriminately by these chemical weapons."