Obama: failure to act on Syria would embolden ‘rogue nations’

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U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday the failure to take military action Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons there would embolden “rogue nations.”

Obama was speaking to reporters at the conclusion of a Group of 20 summit in Russia where Syria dominated much of the discussion.

Barack Obama said that the world cannot “stand idly” by on Syria and announced he would address the United States over the crisis next week.

He refused to say what he would do if Congress doesn’t approve his resolution to launch military strikes on Syria.

Obama said there was disagreement among G20 members meeting in St. Petersburg about whether it was appropriate to use force in Syria without a United Nations resolution.

But he pointed out that most of the leaders of the G20 countries agree that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for using poison gas against civilians.

He described his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Syria as “candid and constructive.”

Obama says that he urged Putin to set aside his differences with the United States over the use of chemical weapons and try to help encourage a political transition in Syria.

Putin told reporters they spoke for 20 or 30 minutes on Friday and focused on Syria. The Russian president said while they disagreed, the meeting was constructive.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had said that almost all leaders at the G20summit accepted the need for intervention in Syria.

Turkey has said previously it would be ready to take part in international action against Syrian President Assad, and has put its armed forces on alert to guard against threats from Syria, with which it shares a 900 km (560 mile) border.

“Almost all the leaders who attended the summit are closely following the massacre the Syrian regime carried out on its people and the leaders have expressed that an operation is extremely necessary against Damascus,” Erdogan said.

The Turkish leader repeated that a small coalition could be formed for a joint operation even outside the auspices of the U.N.

“It could be three countries, five countries ... What will be the strategy of such an operation, what will be the tactics, they are separate issues ... But the necessity for such a thing to happen was emphasized (at the summit),” he said.

France will wait for U.N. inspectors to issue their report on a probe into a chemical weapons attack in Syria before launching any military action against the Damascus regime, French President Francois Hollande said Friday.

“Are we going to wait for the inspectors' report? Yes, we are going to wait for the inspectors' report as we are going to wait for the US Congress vote on the proposed strikes,” he said after the G20 summit in Saint Petersburg.

(With AP and Reuters)