President Barack Obama has called for a clear message to be sent to Syria over the use of chemical weapons.
Obama, en route to the G20 summit in St Petersburg, stopped off in Sweden in a drive to build support for intervention against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
He said: “You can always find a reason not to act, this is a complicated difficult situation and an initial response will not solve the underlying tragedy of the civil war in Syria. As Frederick (Sweden’s prime minister) mentioned, that will be solved through eventually a political transition.
“But we can send a very clear strong message in favour of the prohibition against using chemical weapons. We can change Assad’s calculus about using them again, we can degrade his capabilities so that he does not use them again.”
But Obama admitted US credibility was on the line over its response to the use of chemical weapons.
He said: “My credibility is not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line.
“America and Congress’ credibility is on the line, because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important.”
Obama added he was “always hopeful” Russia’s Vladimir Putin would change his position on backing Assad.
Putin said earlier he would not rule out supporting UN-backed strikes against Syria – if it is proved Assad used poison gas against his own people.
But he warned the international community that launching any military action without UN approval would be illegal, before repeating doubts over whether the Assad regime were responsible for chemical weapons attack.
The US says the alleged chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21 killed 1,429 people.
On Tuesday a Syrian medical expert – who defected to Turkey – claimed he had evidence of the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s regime.
The debate in France comes after the UK pulled out of any potential action. It has been argued one of the key reasons for the UK’s reluctance to get involved centres around doubts over who would fill any power vaccuum in the country.
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