Obama, in separate interviews to six news channels on the issue of Syria on Monday, also conceded he was not confident of getting votes from Congress on the strike, but said he would take a final decision after talking to American people directly. (Agencies)
"Absolutely, if, in fact, that happened," the President said when asked if the military strike was on pause if Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian President, yields control of his chemical weapons to international authority.
"That's in our national security interest. If we can do that without a military strike, that is overwhelmingly my preference. And now the key is, can we see a sense of urgency?" Obama said.
"I don't think that we would have gotten to this point unless we had maintained a credible possibility of a military strike, and I don't think now is the time for us to let up on that," Obama said, asserting that he wants to make sure that the norm against use of chemical weapons is maintained.
The US President also said he was not confident enough of getting Congressional support on the issue. "I wouldn't say I'm confident. I'm confident that the members of Congress are taking this issue very seriously and they're doing their homework. And I appreciate that," Obama said.
The President said he has not decided on going for the military strike without Congressional authorization. Asserting that he always preferred for a diplomatic resolution to the Syrian crisis, Obama noted that the latest statements by Russia and the Syrian government represent a potentially positive development.
"Between the statements that we saw from the Russians, the statement from the Syrians, this represents a potentially positive development. And my preference consistently has been a diplomatic resolution to this problem," Obama said.
"It's possible if it's real," Obama said when asked if the military strike could be averted if the Syrian chemical weapons were handed over to international control as suggested by Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russians.
"I think it's certainly a positive development when the Russians and Syrians both make gestures toward dealing with these chemical weapons. This is what we've been asking for not just over the last week or the last month, but for the last couple of years... because these chemical weapons pose a significant threat to all nations, and to the US in particular," he said.
"So it is a potentially positive development. I have to say that it's unlikely that we would have arrived at that point where there were even public statements like that without a credible military threat to deal with the chemical weapons use inside of Syria," Obama said.
"But we're going to run this to ground. John Kerry and the rest of my national security team will engage with Russians and the international community to see can we arrive at something that is enforceable and serious," he said.
"One reason this may have a chance of success is that even Syria's allies, like Iran, detest chemical weapons. Iran, you know, unfortunately, was target of chemical weapons at the hands of Saddam Hussein during the Iraq-Iran War," he said.
"So we may be able to arrive at a consensus in which it doesn't solve the underlying problems of a civil war in Syria, but it does solve the problem that I am trying to focus on right now, which is, making sure that you don't have over 400 children guessed indiscriminately by these chemical weapons," the US President said.
NO DECISION WITHOUT CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORIZATION
The President said he has not decided on going for military strike without Congressional authorization. "I think it's fair to say I haven't decided. I am taking this vote in Congress. What American people are saying very seriously, because if you ask somebody, you know, I read polls like everybody else, if you ask somebody, if you ask Michelle, do we want to be involved in another war, answer is no," he said.
"I recognize how important that debate is. And it's my belief that for me, the President, to act without consensus in a situation where there's not a direct imminent threat to the homeland or our interests around the world, that's not the kind of precedent that I want to set," Obama said.
Obama, in separate interviews to six news channels on the issue of Syria on Monday, also conceded he was not confident of getting votes from Congress on the strike, but said he would take a final decision after talking to American people directly.