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Obama: Syria Debate Is Diplomacy Lesson For Iran [VIDEO]

President Barack Obama says his administration’s approach to Syria’s chemical weapons should show Iran that there’s the potential for diplomatic solutions to arms standoffs.

President Obama on ABC This Week
President Obama on ABC This Week (White House)

But he says Iran shouldn’t assume that his preference for diplomacy means the U.S. won’t strike Tehran.

Obama tells ABC’s “This Week” that Iranians understand that their pursuit of a nuclear weapon is “a far larger issue for us” than the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Obama says he has exchanged letters with Iran’s new president, but the two have not spoken directly.

Obama says he believes Iranian President Hasan Rouhani (hah-SAHN’ roh-HAH’-nee) understands the potential for a diplomatic solution to his country’s disputed nuclear program but will not “suddenly make it easy.”

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Syrian Official Says Chemical Deal A ‘Victory’

A high-ranking Syrian official has welcomed the U.S.-Russian agreement to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, calling it a “victory” for Damascus.

The comments Sunday from Minister of National Reconciliation Ali Haidar to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti are the first by a senior Syrian government official on the deal struck a day earlier in Geneva.

RIA Novosti quoted Haidar as saying the agreement “will help Syrians get out of the crisis” and also “averted a war against Syria by removing the pretext for those who wanted to unleash one.”

The United States had threatened to carry out punitive strikes against Syria over a suspected chemical attack last month that Washington blames on the Damascus regime.

Haidar credited Russia with brokering the deal.

Kerry warns Syria

Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Jim Hollander-Pool/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is sending a strong warning to Syria, saying that ‘the threat of force is real’ if it does not carry out a plan to hand over its chemical weapons.

Kerry issued the warning during a stop in Jerusalem on Sunday, where he discussed the new U.S.-Russian plan to rid Syria of its chemical weapons by the middle of next year.

Kerry stressed that it would be crucial for Syria to honor the agreement. Otherwise, the U.S. threat to use military force against Syria remains in effect.

Kerry said: “We cannot have hollow words.”

Kerry travels next to Paris for discussions about Syria on Monday with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and British Foreign Secretary William Hague. Kerry will also see the Saudi foreign minister.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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