Obama defends approach to determining if Syria used chemical arms

WASHINGTON Tue May 7, 2013 3:18pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama attends a joint news conference with South Korea's President Park Geun-hye in the East Room of the White House in Washington, May 7, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

U.S. President Barack Obama attends a joint news conference with South Korea's President Park Geun-hye in the East Room of the White House in Washington, May 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday defended his deliberate approach to determining whether Syria used chemical weapons and pointed to the fates of Osama bin Laden and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as evidence that "we typically follow through on our commitments."

Obama has drawn some fire for going it slow on Syria amid large casualties there in the country's two-year civil war. At a news conference with visiting South Korean President Park Geun-hye, however, he pushed back against the criticism.

Obama said he has to make decisions based on hard-headed analysis, not on "a hope and a prayer," and that he cannot make a decision or organize international coalitions on the basis of simply "perceived" evidence of Syrian transgressions.

The United States is currently investigating charges that Syria used chemical weapons and is seeking more evidence to support the allegations.

The United States has said it has "varying degrees of confidence" that chemical weapons have been used by Syria's government on its people, which violates a "red line" that Obama had established against such action.

Obama said he wanted to make sure the United States is proceeding deliberately and pointed out times during his presidency when he said he was going to act on an issue, and "I got it done."

He cited the late bin Laden, killed by U.S. special forces two years ago, and Gaddafi, driven from power by a U.S.-backed rebellion and later killed in 2011.

"Whether it's bin Laden or Gaddafi, if we say we're taking a position, I would think at this point the international community has a pretty good sense that we typically follow through on our commitments," he said.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (7)
50cal wrote:
What a week kneeded pethetic hypocrite.

May 07, 2013 4:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
unionwv wrote:
Threats made by POTUS look increasingly like those made by Kim Jong Un.

May 07, 2013 4:35pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
USAPragmatist wrote:
@50cal and unionwv, I bet Bin Ladend or Qaddafi would disagree with you. But whatever you all just are going to use anything to say why your pre-judgements abut OUR President our right, so as usual I am wondering why people like you all hate him so much?

Personally I am glad we have someone in office that is not going to pre-judge and rush us into a conflict we have no business being in.

May 07, 2013 5:26pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

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