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September 11th, 2013
05:50 AM ET

President Obama: Let's Try Diplomacy First

President Obama spoke from the East Room of the White House to the American people and the world Tuesday night in a speech giving his position on Syria. CNN's Brianna Keilar reports.

The President laid out some of his case for military strikes against Syria but also cautiously embraced a Russian plan to try diplomacy first.

First, the commander in chief told Americans why his administration is certain Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime is responsible for a sarin gas attack the U.S. government says killed more that 1,400 civilians.

President Obama: In the days leading up to the August 21st, we know that Assad's chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.

While he made the case for a military response saying "even a limited strike will send a message to Assad that no other nation can deliver" later in the speech, he argued against taking action as he pointed to a new Russian brokered proposal for Syria to give up its chemical weapons.

President Obama: I have therefore asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path.

Keilar says many observers doubt Syria will actually turn over its extensive chemical weapons stockpiles and the administration is concerned the Assad regime may just be stalling.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday, "It has to be swift, it has to be real, it have to be verifiable. It cannot be a delaying tactic."

The diplomat will head to Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov Thursday.

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