CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., issued a statement agreeing with diplomatic efforts to put an end to Syria's chemical weapons capabilities -- but said force should remain a possibility if diplomacy doesn't work.
President Obama had threatened U.S. strikes against President Bashar Assad's regime. A surprise offer from Secretary of State John Kerry created an opening for Syria to avert U.S. military action by turning over the country's chemical weapons stockpile to international control within a week.
"Given the developments of the last two days, I am in agreement with the Administration's efforts to put an end to Assad's chemical weapons capabilities through international intervention short of military strikes," Rockefeller stated.
"For the time being, we should pursue this possible diplomatic path. But make no mistake, it was the United States' threat of force that prompted Russia and Syria to move toward this approach in the first place, and they will not follow through unless we maintain our pressure."
Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were heading to Geneva with teams of experts today for talks about how to put Syria's chemical weapons under international control and destroying them.
"Most importantly," Rockefeller stated, "if the effort for an international diplomatic solution falters, we must be prepared to go further. We must not waver in our resolve that the United States cannot and will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons."
Rockefeller said any military action against Syria should be narrowly focused.
"I do not support putting U.S. troops on the ground in Syria, and I do not support any other form of U.S. military intervention or so-called 'nation-building' that could drag the United States into the intractable, centuries-old sectarian turmoil in the Middle East."