President Barack Obama
said on Thursday he is focusing on domestic priorities after a tense period during which he sought congressional approval to use military force against Syria
for its suspected use of chemical weapons.
"Even as we have been spending a lot of time on the Syria issue and making sure that international attention is focused on the horrible tragedy that occurred there, it is still important to recognize that we've got a lot more stuff to do here in this government," the president said before a meeting with his Cabinet
at the White House.
The president said he hopes meetings between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will result in action to eliminate Syria's ability to use chemical weapons again.
Obama has asked Congress to authorize military strikes against Syria in response to what the United States says was a chemical weapons attack by the government that killed more than 1,400 people on August 21. The issue is on hold pending diplomatic efforts to disarm Syria of chemical weapons.
"I am hopeful that the discussions that Secretary Kerry had with Foreign Minister Lavrov as well as some of the other players in this can yield a concrete result," Obama said.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were to hold talks on Syria in Geneva.
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Assad
said his country intends to fulfill an initiative to hand over its chemical weapons only when the United States stops threatening to strike Syria, RIA news agency quoted Assad as saying in a television interview.
Assad also said that Damascus
will begin handing over information on its chemical weapons stockpiles one month after it joins a anti-chemical weapons convention.
"When we see the United States really wants stability in our region and stops threatening, striving to attack, and also ceases arms deliveries to terrorists, then we will believe that the necessary processes can be finalized," he was quoted as saying in an interview with Russian state television.
Assad noted that Syria would start submitting data on its chemical weapons stockpile a month after signing the convention banning such weapons.
The Syrian president
said this was the "standard process" and his country would follow it.
AP, Reuters contributed to this report
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