WASHINGTON, Aug 23 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said key decisions were nearing on Syria and Egypt, according to an interview broadcast on Friday, as the U.S. military intensifies planning on possible bombing targets inside Syria.
The United States remains "one indispensable nation" in the Middle East, Obama told CNN.
Asked about claims of chemical weapons use in Syria, Obama said officials are "right now gathering information" and that "what we've seen indicates that this is clearly a big event of grave concern."
Saying the U.S. side is pushing "to prompt better action" from the United Nations, and are calling on the Syrian government to allow an investigation of the site of the alleged attack outside Damascus," Obama said "core national interests" of the U.S. are now involved in Syria's civil war, "both in terms of us making sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies, our bases in the region."
But he was cautious on weather to intervene militarily in Syria, saying "if the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a UN mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it."
The costs of military action "have to take those into account as we try to work within an international framework to do everything we can to see Assad ousted," Obama said.
On the subject of whether to cancel military aid to Egypt, Obama reasoned "the aid itself may not reverse what the interim government does," noting that "What most Americans would say is that we have to be very careful about being seen as aiding and abetting actions that we think run contrary to our values and our ideals."
The president said the administration is currently "doing a full evaluation of the U.S.-Egyptian relationship," and that there is "no doubt that we can't return to business as usual, given what's happened."
"There was a space right after Mr. Morsy was removed in which we did a lot of heavy lifting and a lot of diplomatic work to try to encourage the military to move in a path of reconciliation," the president added. But "they did not take that opportunity."
Also on Friday, the Wall Street Journal reports indicated that the Pentagon has begun updating target lists for possible airstrikes on a range of Syrian government and military installations, as part of contingency planning should Obama decide to act after what experts said may be the worst chemical-weapons massacre in more than two decades.
The New York Times also reported senior officials from the Pentagon, the State Department and the intelligence agencies met for three and a half hours at the White House on Thursday to deliberate over options, which officials say could range from a cruise missile strike to a more sustained air campaign against Syria.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Following the release of a video that allegedly shows the after-effects of a chemical weapons attack in Syria, all eyes are on the White House to see whether the United States will get directly involved in the bloody conflict.
Syrian rebels in recent days accused government forces of launching toxic gas attacks, saying possibly hundreds have been killed. The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied the attack, saying the accusations were baseless. Full story
BEIJING, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- The ongoing political impasse and bloody social chaos in Egypt has proved the U.S. "tightrope walking" policy on the country has largely failed.
Since the Egyptian security forces began last week to forcibly disperse sit-ins staged by supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, the ensuing violence has claimed some 1,000 lives. Full story