BEIJING, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Senate delayed a test vote on authorizing a limited military strike on Syria Monday, hours after President Barack Obama welcomed a Russian proposal to put Syrian chemical weapons under international control.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would not rush the vote scheduled for Wednesday to end the debate, citing that "international discussions" are continuing on seeking a peaceful settlement of the crisis caused by an alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government last month.
"I've spoken to the Republican leader. I've talked to virtually all my Democratic senators and we have enough votes to get cloture," Reid said, insisting that he did not delay the vote because of rising opposition to the use of force from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
The delay could give senators more time to weigh the arguments favoring a military strike, he said.
"I don't think we need to see how fast we can do this. We have to see how well we can do this matter," Reid said, adding that the delay would give Obama an opportunity to speak to all senators and the whole nation.
Obama announced later August that he would seek congressional authorization to take a military action agaisnt the Syrian government to punish its alledged chemical attack on Aug. 21, and the Senate is expected to hold a debate, or possibly a vote on this within this week.
The Senate's new move came after the Obama administration welcomed a proposal put forward earlier Monday by Russia for Syria to surrender its stockpiles of chemical weapons to international control.
In multiple interviews with U.S. TV networks, Obama said he would prefer to have a diplomatic solution to the crisis rather than launch a military attack, signaling that he would put the strike against Syria on hold if the Syrian government were to turn over control of its chemical weapons.
"(Secretary of State) John Kerry and the rest of my national security team will engage with the Russians and the international community to see, can we arrive at something that is enforceable and serious," Obama said.
During the interviews, Obama also said he remained skeptical that Syria would turn over its chemical weapons, and would take the statements coming out of Syrian government officials in support of the Russian proposal "with a grain of salt."
The president added that his administration would engage in talks with Russia and Syria, saying: "We're going to run this to ground."
"And so it's possible that we can get a breakthrough, but ... it's going to have to be followed up on. And we don't want just a stalling tactic to put off ... the pressure that we have on there right now," he said.
Obama said the proposal is actually not new to him, as he had talked with Russian President Vladimir Putin about such a settlement during a Group of 20 (G20) summit last week in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the proposal earlier Monday, urging Syria to "place its chemical weapons stockpiles under international control so they can be destroyed."
The proposal got a positive response from Syria whose Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said his country welcomed the Russian proposal "emanating from our concern about the security of our country and our trust in the wisdom of the Russian leadership."
Syrian analysts and observers deemed the fresh initiative as "the first step toward a political solution."
"We hope ... that the result could be, not only related to the chemical weapons, but also to halt the Western and Arab funding of the armed groups in Syria," said Sharif Shihadeh, a Syrian lawmaker.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also urged acceptance, saying the international community should move Syria's chemical arsenal to safe places.
British Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the idea as "a big step forward" that was worth exploring, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said it "deserves close examination." Even former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said any move by Syria to surrender its chemical weapons would be an "important step."
However, Israeli President Shimon Peres expressed doubt about the Russian proposal, saying it was problematic since the Syrian government "can't be trusted."
"The Syrians have shown that they are not trustworthy and that we cannot count on their integrity," Peres was quoted as saying in a statement released by the presidential office.
DAMASCUS, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- Russia on Monday proposed a fresh initiative on Syrian crisis, stimulating to secure the chemical stockpiles of the Damascus government under international observation, an apparent attempt to put down the fire before reaching the "powder keg" of the Middle East.
Syrian analysts say the move could be a first step toward a political solution to the country's long-time crisis.Full story
WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday welcomed a Russian proposal to put Syrian chemical weapons under international control, saying it is a "potentially positive development," and could lead to a "breakthrough" on the crisis, while warning the proposal shouldn't be used as a stalling tactic.
In multiple interviews with TV networks, Obama said he would prefer to have a diplomatic solution to the crisis rather than launch a military attack, signaling he would put the strike against Syria on hold if the Syrian government were to turn over control of its chemical weapons.Full story
MOSCOW, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- Russia on Monday called on Syria to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons ( OPCW), and put its chemical weapons storage facilities under international control.
"We have given our proposal to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al- Moualem and we expect a prompt and, I hope, positive response," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a statement after his talks with Moualem.Full story
MOSCOW, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- Any unilateral military strike on Syria would constitute an aggression over a sovereign state, senior Russian officials said Monday.
"Neither Senate nor Congress of theUnited Statesmight sanction a strike against other country because there is no aggression against the United States," head of Russia's Security Council Nikolai Patrushev told reporters.Full story
WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned if U.S. President Barack Obama decides to launch military strikes on Syria, the United States and its allies should "expect every action" in retaliation.
"You should expect everything. Not necessarily from the government," Assad said in an interview with CBS "This Morning" aired on Monday, warning his government is "not the only player in this region."Full story