Stockholm/Moscow/Baghdad: US President Barack Obama Wednesday said he is "confident" that the US Congress will agree to a military strike against Syria, but Russian President Vladimir Putin termed any such congressional move as ‘absolutely unacceptable’.
At a press conference in Stockholm, when asked what solutions he would take if the US Congress failed to approve his government's plan to launch a military strike against Syria, Obama tactically skirted the question by replying that he was "confident" that the Congress would agree to military action against Syria, Xinhua reported.
Obama said that he did not intent to repeat the same mistake of false intelligence concerning Iraq, but emphasised he had "solid" intelligence this time that there has been chemical attack against Syrian people.
"With regard to the situation in Syria, we strongly condemn any and all use of chemical weapons. Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable," Obama and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said in a joint statement.
In Moscow, President Putin said the US Congress was considering the possibility of authorising aggression against Syria and termed this as ‘absolutely unacceptable’, ITAR-TASS reported.
“We have focused on the fact that Congress and Senate are discussing the question of using force. But this is a downright substitution of common sense,” Putin said at a meeting of a human rights council Wednesday.
“According to international law, no congress in any country can authorise such actions. What are they authorising? They are authorising aggression because anything that is outside the UN Security Council is aggression.”
The president noted this would not be aggression if it were a question of self-defence.
“But Syria is not attacking the United States, as we all know. So, this is not a question of self-defence,” Putin said.
He believes that the American parliamentarians ‘are basically trying to legitimise aggression’.
In another development, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki Wednesday launched a new peace initiative to end the Syrian crisis and called on the Arab countries and the world to back his plan.
Maliki said in his weekly statement that his nine-point initiative is a modified version of Iraq's former peace plan, which was rejected by the Syrian opposition last year, according to Xinhua.
The plan includes a series of proposals like stopping arming both sides of the conflict, withdrawal of all foreign fighters, supporting investigation into the use of chemical weapons and rejection of military intervention in Syria, as well as establishing a fund for the return of Syrian refugees.
Maliki said that the Syrian administration and the opposition must be committed to negotiations under Arab and international supervision, and added the Syrians must agree to a roadmap to form an interim government that would include both the government and the opposition.
In August 2012, Maliki submitted a peace plan during his participation in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran, but it was rejected by the Syrian opposition.
Iraq has been on its highest alert since last week ahead of a possible strike on neighbouring Syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians in Damascus suburbs that killed hundreds of people.