Obama tells G20 he is ‘highly confident’ that Syria used chemical weapons
PRESIDENT Barack Obama told G20 leaders the United States has high confidence that Syrian forces used chemical weapons and underlined the need to uphold an international ban on the use of such weapons.
Obama made his case at a lengthy G20 leaders dinner that stretched late into last night and was hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the chief opponent to a US push to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over an August 21 chemical weapons attack it blames on his troops.
Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser, said that Obama "once again underscored the very high confidence that we have" that Assad's government launched a poison gas attack that killed 1,429 people.
He made a similar case in talks this morning with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Both Putin and Xi have blocked UN Security Council action against Syria, which has frustrated US efforts for international solidarity.
Obama, who is trying to persuade the US Congress to authorise military force against Syria, told the G20 leaders that it was important to uphold international norms against chemical weapons usage. He noted, however, the paralysis that exists on the Security Council, Rhodes said.