By Jeremy Herb - 05/16/13 05:45 PM EDT
Obama said that the United States is continuing to investigate the evidence of a chemical attack committed by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces, which would cross the "red line" set by the president.
“I preserve the options of taking additional steps, both diplomatic and military, because those chemical weapons inside of Syria also threaten our security over the long term as well as our allies and friends and neighbors,” Obama said.
“I don't think anybody in the region, including the prime minister, would think that U.S. unilateral actions in and of themselves would bring about a better outcome inside of Syria,” Obama added.
Secretary of State John Kerry announced last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that the Americans and Russians wanted to hold talks with Syrian officials to try to find a political solution to the two-year civil war.
Despite reservations expressed by both the Syrian government and the rebels, Kerry said Tuesday that the “core group” of countries that support the rebels and the chief of staff of the Free Syrian Army have agreed to the talks.
Asked when Assad would leave power and how, Obama said “the sooner the better,” but acknowledged that it was a difficult process because of the war.
“There's no magic formula for dealing with an extraordinarily violent and difficult situation like Syria's,” Obama said. “If there was, I think the prime minister and I would have already acted on it and it would already be finished.”
Erdoğan emphasized the role of Russia and China in helping end the war, as those countries have been among the Syrian government's biggest backers on the United Nations Security Council.