Obama says Syria deal must be 'verifiable and enforceable'

WASHINGTON Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:19pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the nation about the situation in Syria from the East Room at the White House in Washington, September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Evan Vucci/POOL

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the nation about the situation in Syria from the East Room at the White House in Washington, September 10, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Evan Vucci/POOL

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Friday he hopes talks on a plan to destroy Syria's chemical weapons are successful, but said he will insist any deal is "verifiable and enforceable."

Obama made his comments after meeting in the Oval Office of the White House with Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah.

"I shared with the emir my hope that the negotiations that are currently taking place between Secretary of State Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov in Geneva bear fruit," Obama said.

"But I repeated what I've said publicly, which is any agreement needs to be verifiable and enforceable," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are talking about Moscow's proposal to help secure Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons to avert potential U.S. military strikes.

"Our two countries are in agreement that the use of chemical weapons that we saw in Syria was a criminal act, and that it is absolutely important that the international community respond in not only deterring repeated use of chemical weapons, but hopefully getting those chemical weapons outside of Syria," Obama said after the meeting with Sheikh Sabah.

The meeting also touched on U.S. efforts to restart negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, ongoing tensions in Egypt, and on other regional issues.

Sheikh Sabah also broached the issue of Kuwaiti detainees in the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - a prison that Obama wants to close. His plan has been resisted by Congress.

"We also discussed the continued detention of the two Kuwaiti detainees in Guantanamo, and asked President Obama to speed up the process of releasing them in line with the president's commitment of closing down Guantanamo, and also in line with the assurances given by the Kuwaiti authorities," Sheikh Sabah said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason; Editing by Eric Beech and Vicki Allen)

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