WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- President Obama said Sunday he was hopeful the plan to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control could set the stage for a peace process.
Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Obama said the involvement of Russia in getting chemical weapons off the battlefield was a significant step.
"If we get that accomplished, then we may also have a foundation to begin what has to be an international process, in which Assad's sponsors, primarily Iran and Russia, recognize that this is terrible for the Syrian people, and they are willing to come, in a serious way, to arrive at some sort of political settlement ," said Obama.
The president contended Iran recognized that its nuclear program was a more pressing issue for the United States than Syria's chemical weapons and that the United States was capable of going to the mat to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
"What they should draw from this lesson is that there is the potential of resolving these issues diplomatically," he said.
Obama dismissed the harsh criticism he has received since calling for a military response to the August gas attack in a Damascus suburb that left a reported 1,400 civilians dead. He told ABC he was not interested in political "style points" and was happy Russian President Vladimir Putin was using his influence with the Syrian regime.
"I welcome him saying, 'I will take responsibility for pushing my client, the Assad regime– to deal with these chemical weapons,'" Obama said.
Obama added he hoped the chemical weapons deal plus Putin's intervention would help convince the Iranians and their new president that the war needed to come to an end. What is happening there is a train wreck that hurts not just Syrians but is destabilizing the entire region," he said.