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NH’s Shaheen working on alternative Syria resolution; Ayotte in discussions

Senior Political Reporter

September 10. 2013 12:57PM

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is drafting an alternative use-of-force resolution on Syria that if passed, could stave off or delay military action in response to the Assad government's use of chemical weapons.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte “hasn’t been actively involved in the drafting of any particular proposal,” despite national media reports to the contrary, her spokesman said.

Ayotte earlier today was named in several national media reports as a member of bipartisan group of eight senators who were “drafting” an alternative resolution, separate from Shaheen’s resolution, in response to the Russian proposal aimed at securing and destroying Syrian nuclear weapons.

But, said Ayotte spokesman Jeff Grappone, “National media outlets are making too much out of Capitol Hill conversations.”

The reports said the proposal the bipartisan group was working on would give the United Nations time to take control of the Syrian chemical weapons.

According to the New York Times, it would require the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution condemning the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government and would set a deadline for establishing United Nations control of the arsenal. If that deadline is not met, the resolution would authorize the use of military force.

Shaheen, meanwhile, has already drafted a similar proposal.

According to text provided to by her office, it would authorize the use of force “if the President certifies to Congress that the government of Syria is not taking credible and concrete steps toward the removal and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.”

Its language does not yet have a specific time limit spelling out how long Syria would have to take such “credible and concrete steps.”

Shaheen said on the Senate floor Tuesday she is working with colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the proposal.

Late Monday, Shaheen welcomed reports that the Russian government has offered to work with Syria to establish international control over Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

“I believe we should pursue every possible diplomatic solution prior to engaging in military action,” she said. “As such, I welcome the possibility of international cooperation to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and call on Russia to quickly follow through on its new commitment. The eventual elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles is in the best interest of the United States and the world community.

“After two years of diplomatic stalemate, the credible threat of force has finally pushed Syria and Russia to the negotiating table,” she said. “However, this cannot be a delaying tactic. We must see immediate, serious and credible actions by Russia and Syria toward the transfer and eventual destruction of Syria’s weapons of mass destruction as soon as possible. We should continue to maintain pressure on the Syrian regime to give up its weapons stockpile.”

Ayotte spokesman Grappone said Ayotte has had conversations with colleagues about the Syria resolution, but said she is “skeptical of (Russian president Vladimir) Putin and (Syrian president) Assad’s credibility and the ability of the UN to execute this type of resolution.”

Grappone said, however, Ayotte “believes it would be a positive outcome if Assad would turn over his chemical weapons to international control.

“She looks forward to listening to the President and the case he makes to the American people tonight for the use of force in Syria,” Grappone said.

It is now unclear when the Senate will vote on the use of force resolution and alternatives.

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