September 6, 2013
Most G20 leaders agree Assad was behind chemical attack, Obama says
President Barack Obama said on Friday that most leaders of the G20 countries agree that Syrian President Bashar Assad is responsible for using poison gas against civilians as the U.S. leader tried to rally support at home and abroad for a military strike.
Obama said he planned to speak to the American public about Syria on Tuesday as Congress considers his request for limited military action in Syria.
Speaking to reporters at an international diplomatic summit, Obama said the leaders of the world's largest economies agreed that chemical weapons were used in Syria and that the international ban chemical weapons needs to be maintained.
However, he said there was disagreement about whether force could be used in Syria without going through the United Nations. The United States has been unable to win U.N. Security Council approval for military action against Syriabecause of the opposition of veto-wielding Russia.
"The majority of the room is comfortable with our conclusion that Assad, the Assad government, was responsible for their use," he said at a news conference, adding that this is disputed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A number of countries believed that any military force needed to be decided at U.N. Security Council, a view he said he does not share.
"Given Security Council paralysis on this issue, if we are serious about upholding a ban on chemical weapons use then an international response is required, and that will not come through Security Council action," he said.
Obama has been trying to rally support internationally and domestically for a limited military response to the chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians Aug. 21. (Reporting By Steve Holland, Roberta Rampton and Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Doina Chiacu)