Obama 'Hopeful Discussions Can Yield Concrete Result' With Syria

John Kerry heads to Geneva to work with Syrian officials on handing over chemical arms.
15:27 | 09/12/13

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Transcript for Obama 'Hopeful Discussions Can Yield Concrete Result' With Syria
This is a special group. Report from -- -- Hello when I'm Dan Cutler in New York with this ABC news digital special report. President Obama prohibited on his solution to Syria delaying a vote at the last minute. Just -- few moments ago he was meeting with the rest of his cabinet -- secretary of state John Kerry secretary Kerry. Is in Geneva Switzerland meeting with his Russian counterpart and other world leaders working to make sure Syria hands over its chemical weapons. -- let's listen in to some of what the president said -- before that meeting started. I. -- hopeful. Discussions. -- secretary. We. For the was so -- other players in this could yield a concrete results. And I know that he is going to be worked very hard over the next several days. What possible they are there. So that was the scene in DC but -- -- -- change our attention to ABC's care -- who is in Geneva Switzerland as well along with the secretary of state. Here thanks for being with us and I give us a scope of who is there what is the plan. Right well. As you mentioned secretary carry his appearance in the -- meeting with the Russian counterpart foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. Both of the -- -- giant teams but that experience intelligence analysts to go over in detail how they might do this how they might. Work to get. Syrian president -- -- -- its chemical weapons out of the country and secure place. And what we have heard from the president and I'm interested to find out when you've been here in the delegation -- in the United States that's their right now is that. In order for the US to take seriously this Russian proposal that must be sincere. And then must be something that is long term is that the kind of sentiment that you're hearing from American officials that -- that are in Geneva. Yet there are cautiously optimistic I would say about the fact that they might -- On the plant near -- police acknowledge it's extremely difficult to talk to experts about these kinds of things they'll tell you it takes a -- A -- effort to make this happen and don't forget this. The war zone. To me secure all of these weapons sites then transported to someplace where they will be under international. Working. Last part years -- you so this is something that will be very difficult. Beat the Americans to think that -- Russians are very serious about their intentions to help on this here that the Russians have said mrs. They know better -- your time today said that his country faces -- threat -- chemical weapons. -- -- -- Syria and spread -- There's this is something the Americans and the Russians -- together and I want my mother thought that he has to benefit first from -- to ask you about. Syria's president Bashar Al Assad appearing on Russian state television almost sounding as if this was a done deal. Yeah he was rather -- rather -- They have they weren't prepared to sign on to what's called. Maternal role their their chemical weapons to international monitors for eventual destruction. As exhibit -- Remains to. Exactly how. -- will be verification. Will they be able to two it's safe net and trying to overhaul of the chemical. -- -- -- -- Saudi government has about one. The toxic weapons of its its arsenal. It's -- where are all of -- -- -- -- -- -- -- What has been the response -- to that op Ed piece by Russia's president Vladimir Putin in the New York Times this morning. Because certainly say -- stateside. The reaction can be somewhat different that not only what you're gonna be seen in Geneva but with other world leaders from other countries that are -- Yeah as you mentioned there was a pretty strong response from members of congress. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- It is New Jersey say that it made headlines of -- -- -- he thinks that it's sounds like somebody from eight KGB -- Chris Johnson who -- KGB agent. He's lecturing the US. Was cautioned against American led strike that's -- it was not very popular amongst the majority of countries around the world. And so. You know well there -- -- some some angry reaction to that the United States there was a recognition that. Has there been any reaction to this report from Foreign Policy Magazine saying that sources that it has inside the UN. That they have in fact determined that the Asad regime -- is responsible. For that chemical weapons attack. -- -- -- Report let's talk. On Monday it's. Report from the inspectors went in to Syria after the August 21 -- to pass on its example. You live from your hair. From ground samples have been trying to figure out exactly what was -- Communities these weapons came from but also. At least perhaps indirectly putting the finger at the Assad government -- -- the only ones that would have. Said that it was the Syrian rebels who are responsible. So it remains to be seen exactly how this -- with the Russians but really. -- isn't a factor obviously what's happening in this hit and I don't expect it to affect everything right now both sides trying to figure out it's possible to do. It took to build the plant to build its chemical weapons that's really the focus of our -- -- -- Here thank you for that would certainly appreciate -- -- secretary of state John Kerry. -- there as -- meeting with some other diplomats around the world right now I want to bring Danny Hughes the State Department and -- Dana I. The bottom line as what is the level of confidence from the State Department on this kind of plan being put put forward. By the Russians. -- -- I think the State Department wants to be optimistic but at the same time the standard bearing line that they have -- due out this week has been -- they want to bear by. That directions have a serious plan -- know when his playing games. And what it's serious -- mean it means that they want to see the details and they. They want some concrete. Actions and consequences. If Syria doesn't follow through the secretary Kerry said this week that he really wants this plant to be house under a UN resolution now that's something that the Russians have really pushed back against they want military strikes taken off the the table how those two different perspectives will work together. Remains to be seen. What about the state department's reaction to this breaking news that we're just getting. On former Charlotte side essentially saying -- if an agreement does go forward that he will provide the chemical weapons data. A month after an agreement is signed is that timeline. Some interesting to be acceptable by the State Department. Again I think it's less about the actual date of a timeline and more about what are the details boarded the logistics. How will this happen will the -- regime -- in weapons inspectors with out any problems I think. That everyone remembers Iraq and that it became a game of cat and mouse. Just when inspectors would come in. Saddam Hussein's regime would move some of the weapons no one wants to see that happen again. So you know I think it's the State Department and the Obama administration is taking a position. You -- that he -- -- -- needs to show some action behind the words are we. At the point of logistical planning of how these weapons might get transferred how they might get destroyed or is it still. On a larger picture -- bigger scope of just coming to some sort of agreement. I there's a dual track happening right now I think that's a big reason why. Secretary Kerry and foreign minister -- -- had this very ad hoc emergency meeting in Geneva and why they each -- teams of experts. I think both recognize that there's not time to try to. Work out the diplomacy first and then work out the details that you really have to go to get. Danny Hughes the State Department -- thank you for that I know what hit it over to recliner political director and Rick obviously we are watching a series evidence that -- played out just in the past couple hours alone. How confident. Is the White House in this Russian plan. This is their best option right now -- they don't have a backup option at this point they have to be confident because it's the only off ramp. From what would've been -- in embarrassing defeat on the floor of the house and the senate. They knew that they were not gonna get the resolution authorizing force that they wanted to get to this was -- opportunity we just heard President Obama say he's looks for some concrete. Action out of the meeting going on with secretary secretary of state -- and the foreign minister Lavrov of Russia that these meetings taking place. Now in Geneva there is so much riding on this right now for President Obama he's international credibility on the line his credibility here at home on the line and of course the response to Syria and the -- use of chemical weapons there. Very much and balance right now does the White House want to take military action off the table because again as we've been talking about. There's been somewhat of a situation the president has found himself and -- -- with congress and the public's approval but of course the international community as well. The line for the White House is that without the threat of military action we wouldn't have gotten this far and -- take that off the table now. Would mean that all of a sudden we'll see -- -- away from the negotiating table the Russians won't have an incentive the follow up on it so the president wants a stronger hand as possible. As these talks begin as it is as any optimism around them he needs to know that he's got that in his back pocket he would love they get a congressional vote. The president said earlier this week that he would ask congress to delay the reality is he was gonna lose the -- he needed to pull back this is a play for time he's hoping to build that support back up. But there's a very good chance that -- right back here will we started in a couple weeks time if this falls apart. Worth it falters at any stage the president will need that vote the right now he does not have in the house and senate I wanna talk about the. Op Ed that is heard round the world President Putin in the New York Times this morning where he's writing about the American public. This is he ready to the American public about the potential dangers and interfering in Syria this is some of what he wrote in the office strike -- -- violence in unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral. Efforts to resolve the -- Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. He is making the point -- a lot of US lawmakers have been making. The the other thing he did it really couldn't -- -- impossible here which is to unite. American lawmakers the congress against all in one direction and against President -- this is being bipartisan. Disavow holes in anger at what they read when it went when these lawmakers saw either less later this morning. The this unusual byline in the New York Times there is no appetite on Capitol Hill or beyond for lecturing. On American values from the presidents of Russia. So I I think if there is that he was in carefully worded op Ed in a lot of ways you can see food and pressing the buttons -- as you -- appealing to some of the different arguments that are playing back. Here at home but in other parts of the op Ed where especially where he says that he thinks an American exceptional -- -- -- something he takes exception to. That is something he is going to disagree with just about every member of congress on certainly L a large portion of the American public as well so. I don't know -- when the history of this is written whether the food not -- we'll be viewed as something that was ultimately productive for the Russian cause what you're talking. -- -- levels of appeal is certainly one of the areas that who had wanted to make was that appeal of a motion to the American public in. Another part of that op -- he writes this force has proved ineffective. And pointless Afghanistan is reeling and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw Libya is divided into tribes and clans. If a rock the civil war continues the dozens with dozens killed each day now. That is a sentiment that we have heard. On social media that we have heard obviously from these town halls that some members of congress have been have been holding. But will they actually make that connection from their own personal response to -- hot -- by the president of Russia. President Bush knows the soft spots right he knows with a weak points are in president Obama's argument he knows where he's being poked and prodded. In different directions a town halls and with members of congress. Very concerned about the idea of another conflict in the Middle East another. Potentially open ended commitment by the US to get involved. He knows all those things but he is a flawed messenger to say police on those issues and I think a lot of what he is saying is -- be -- out serious hope I think was to inject himself in this to move things. In his direction and and have instead -- the president's the United States who is now very dependent on -- to -- him -- of -- of -- tricky situation. But as I said I think members of congress saw that file line and died in the words of one prominent democratic senator. The city wanted to vomit when he read it so I think there's there's a feeling that Putin is not the guy that should be talking -- United States at this time. You have Bob Menendez from new -- and that is a very strong words and almost immediately after that -- -- was put out -- and lastly Rick I just wanted to get your -- -- reaction to this because as you have pointed out when the extremism line had been put in that op Ed that's certainly raise a lot of -- of attention and he was because of this is says. -- is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries rich and -- those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ too we are all different but when we ask of the lord's blessings we must not forget that god created us. Equal that's. Very interesting way to and the -- All men are created equal losing that is that the shades that the throw backs they're the references -- I think it's fascinating look any -- you're gonna have this play out -- with so many different levels of it the public the private. We're having diplomacy made on the international stage were also diplomacy -- and cool hang -- And now op Ed pages. In addition to everything else you it is there's only layers to this drama. It complicates it scrambles politics at home and abroad it is fascinating to watch with these two leaders now liable liable over Syria the White House has been calling this a heavy lift and certainly today is not making it any lighter for them. No doubt about it I think the -- although and we won strong sense in terms of the Capitol Hill reaction. -- quiet some of the folks who've been out there saying that they're gonna come out and oppose military action. And maybe strengthen the resolve all others to try to unite people because now they have someone and they can commonly agreed to did not like and being involved in this and that's president food. Political director Rick Klein in Washington DC -- thank you for that of course we have a complete write up on abcnews.com. As these developments to continue in Syria. For now on Dan Cutler New York with this ABC news digital special report. This has been a special report from me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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