POLITICS: PennAve

Obama hails UN deal on Syrian chemical weapons

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,President,Syria,PennAve,United Nations,Chemical Weapons,Meghashyam Mali

President Obama on Friday hailed a U.N. agreement on Syria's chemical weapons as a "potentially huge victory for the international community."

"This is something that we have long sought," said Obama in remarks to reporters following a bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The key members of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday brokered a deal that will bind Syria to abandon its chemical weapons arsenal and would allow for punishment if Damascus fails to follow through.

The president said the deal would be "legally binding" and "verifiable and enforceable."

Obama cautioned that there was much work ahead to ensure that those weapons are disarmed or removed from Syria.

“We are very hopeful about the prospects for what can be accomplished, but obviously there is a lot of work to be done," he said. “Rightly, people have been concerned about whether Syria will follow through on its commitments, as well as concerns about how to get chemical weapons out while still fighting on the ground.”

The president added that he had "always expressed a preference for resolving this diplomatically," but touted his threats to use U.S. military force against Syrian leader Bashar Assad, saying they had helped push Damascus and its key international-backer Russia to the negotiating table.

According to reports on Thursday, the language of the U.N. resolution cites Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which allows for military action to enforce Security Council resolutions. But the measure does not include an automatic trigger, making it necessary for the Security Council to vote again on action against Syria.

Obama has pushed to disarm Assad after an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack on civilians which the White House and western nations blamed on Damascus. Assad has waged a brutal civil war with opposition forces seeking his ouster.

This story was posted at 1:18 p.m. and has been updated.

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