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Pundits, politicians weigh in on Syria chemical weapons deal (+video)

Reaction to the deal on Syria's chemical weapons brokered by the US and Russia has been largely positive. Yet to be heard from is one key figure: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

By Staff writer / September 14, 2013

Free Syrian Army fighters hold their weapons in the suburb of Raqqa, eastern Syria September 13, 2013.

Nour Fourat/REUTERS

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As diplomats, politicians, and pundits study the US-Russia brokered deal for getting rid of Syria’s chemical weapons, some are weighing in with initial responses.

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“The international community expects the Assad regime to live up to its public commitments,” President Obama said in a statement Saturday. But he also insisted that the United States "remains prepared to act" should diplomatic efforts fail.

Obama said the United States will continue working with Russia, the United Kingdom, France, the United Nations and others to "ensure that this process is verifiable, and that there are consequences should the Assad regime not comply with the framework agreed today."

"In part because of the credible threat of US military force, we now have the opportunity to achieve our objectives through diplomacy," he added.

In another statement of US skepticism and resolve in the face of widespread domestic and foreign opposition to any US strike on the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Pentagon spokesman George Little said, "We haven't made any changes to our force posture to this point” – a reference to US Navy guided missile destroyers off-shore Syria in the Mediterranean Sea and other military assets in the region.

“The credible threat of military force has been key to driving diplomatic progress, and it's important that the Assad regime lives up to its obligations under the framework agreement,” Mr. Little said.

The agreement announced Saturday in Geneva, Switzerland, by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, lays out a path and a time frame for removing or destroying all of Syria’s chemical weapons and equipment in a year’s time.

It requires Syria to provide a “comprehensive listing” of its chemical stocks and equipment, scrutiny by outside inspectors that is “immediate and unfettered,” and the complete “removal and destruction” of the Assad regime’s chemical stocks (estimated at 1,000 metric tons) in no more than 12 months

In a statement, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he "pledges the support of the United Nations in its implementation" and "expresses his fervent hope that the agreement will, first, prevent any future use of chemical weapons in Syria and, second, help pave the path for a political solution to stop the appalling suffering inflicted on the Syrian people."

At a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday, Kerry addressed a comment he made in London on Monday, which many analysts saw as an off-hand remark amounting to a gaffe.

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