Obama may want to discuss timing of Syria votes with Congress: Kerry

WASHINGTON Tue Sep 10, 2013 11:27am EDT

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L-R), Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey testify at the House Armed Services Committee in Washington September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L-R), Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey testify at the House Armed Services Committee in Washington September 10, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama may want to talk to leaders of the U.S. Congress about "when and how" to act on his request for authorization for limited strikes on Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday.

"Nothing has changed with respect to our request for the Congress to take action with respect to this," Kerry told a congressional hearing, when asked about diplomatic developments.

"As to when and how, that's something the president may want to chat with the leadership about," he said.

Kerry also said the proposed military action was not aimed at toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but it would hurt his military capacity and press him to negotiate.

"While it is not the primary objective of the strike, there clearly will be a downstream impact on his military capacity," Kerry said.

The combined pressure on Assad of degrading Syria's military and stepping up support for anti-government rebels would "bring him to the negotiating table," he added.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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