President Obama Confidant 'Assad's Days are Numbered'

The president on his plans for dealing with the conflict in Syria.
3:00 | 10/22/12

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Transcript for President Obama Confidant 'Assad's Days are Numbered'
War in Syria's now spilled over the Lebanon on we have what to more than a hundred people that were killed there and a bomb there were demonstrations. They're eight people dead. Mr. Preston has been morning years -- saw -- told us sought day he had to go since sand 30000 Syrians and I. We've had 300000 refugees the war goes on -- still -- Should we -- assess our policy. And see if we can find a better way to influence events there or is that even possible -- -- you go first. What we've done it is organize the international community. Saying Assad has to go. We've mobilized sanctions against that government. We have made sure that they are isolated. We are providing humanitarian assistance and we are helping the opposition organizer and were particularly interest of making sure the -- mobilizing. The moderate forces inside of -- But ultimately Syrians are gonna have to determine. Their own future. And so everything we're doing we're doing in consultation -- our partners in the region including Israel which obviously has a huge interest in seeing what happens in Syria. Coordinating with Turkey and other countries in the region that have a great interest in this. That's what we're seeing taking place in Syria is heartbreaking. And that's why we are gonna do everything we can to make sure that we are helping the opposition but we also have to recognize that. -- for us to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious stuff. And we have to do so making absolutely certain that we know who we are helping. We're not putting arms. In the hands of folks who eventually could turn them against us or allies in the region and I am confident that a -- days are numbered. But what we can't do. Is to simply suggest that as governor Romney at times has suggested that giving heavy weapons for example to the Syrian opposition. Is a simple proposition that would lead us to be safer over the long. Well a step back and talk about what's happening in Syria and how important is first of all 30000 people being killed by their government is say humanitarian disaster. Secondly -- -- an opportunity for us because Syria plays an important role in Middle East particular right now Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's their route to the C. It's a route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon which threatens of course our ally Israel. And so seeing Syria remove Asad is a very high priority for us number two singing -- the replacement government being responsible people. Is critical for us. And finally we don't -- -- have military involvement there we ought to get drawn into a military conflict. And so the right course for us is working through our partners and with our own resources to identify responsible parties with in Syria. Organize them. Bring them together -- a any form of of it not it -- government a form of of council. They can take the lead in Syria and then make sure they have the arms necessary to defend themselves we do need to make sure. That they don't have arms again and that the wrong hands those arms could be used or heard -- down the road. We need to make sure as well that we coordinate this effort with our allies in particular with -- with Israel. But the saudis and the qatari and and and the Turks are all very concerned about this they're willing to work with us we need to have a very effective leadership effort. In Syria making sure that they -- the insurgents there are armed and that the insurgents that become arm. Are people who will be the responsible parties recognize I believe that a -- must go I believe he will go. But I believe we want to make sure that we have the relationships of friendship with the people that take his place. Such that in the years to come. We see Syria as a as a friend. And Syria as a responsible party in the Middle East this this is a critical opportunity for America and what I'm afraid of is that we've watched over the past year or so. First the president saying what we'll let the UN deal with it and -- actually make a Kofi Annan came in and and said we're gonna try to at a cease fire that didn't work. That -- to the Russians and said good to see if you can do something we should be playing the leadership role there not on the ground with military -- by the march April. We are playing leadership will reorganize the friends of Syria. We are mobilizing humanitarian support and support for the opposition. And we are making sure that those we help. Those who will be friends of ours and long term and friends of our allies in the region over the long -- But -- going back to Libya because this is an example of how we make choices. -- when we went into Libya. And we were able to immediately stop the massacre because of the unique circumstances and the coalition that we had helped to organize. We also to make sure that Wal-Mart Gadhafi didn't stay there. And to the governor's credit you support us going into Libya and the coalition that we organize. But when it came time to making sure the Gaddafi did not stay in power that he was captured. Governor your suggestion was that this was mission -- That this was mission model. Imagine if we had pulled out at that point. Out -- Gaddafi had more American blood on his hands that any individual other or some of them want. And so we're gonna make sure that we finish the job that's part of the reason why the Libyans stand with us. But we did so in a careful thoughtful way making certain that we knew -- we were dealing. That those forces of moderation on the ground or once that we could work with. And we have to take the same kind of steady thoughtful leadership when it comes to Syria that's exactly what we're -- -- governor cannot just ask you would you go be on what the administration would do like for example would you. But in no fly zones over Syria I don't I don't have our military involvement in Syria. I don't think there's necessity to put our military in Syria at at this stage I don't and anticipate that in the future as I indicated our objectives are to replace the -- And to have in place a new government which is friendly to us a responsible government if possible. And I want to make sure they get arms and they have the arms necessary to defend themselves but also -- to remove remove -- side. But I do not want to see a military involvement on the part of a part of our troops what and this this is that this is going to be necessary. We we have with our partners in the region we have a sufficient resources to support those groups but look that's been going on for years. This time that this should have been a time for American leadership we should have taken a leading role not militarily but a leading role organizationally governmental -- To bring together the parties there to -- responsible parties it is you hear from intelligence sources even today. The the the insurgents are highly disparate they haven't come together they haven't formed a unity group a -- a council of some kind. That needs to happen American can't help that happen and we need to make sure they have the arms they need. To carry out the the very important role which is getting rid of us -- would get a quick crisp. Monstrous laws because I want I'll I'll I'll I'll be there all be very quick. What you just heard governor Romney said is he doesn't have different ideas. And that's because we're doing exactly what we should be doing. To try to promote. -- moderate Syrian. Leadership. And -- and effective transitions that we get us out that's the kind of leadership we've shown that -- kind of leadership will continue to show.

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

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