​Biden: Syria Talks May Postpone Trip

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September 10, 2013

Joe Biden says he may have to postpone an upcoming trip to Panama, as Congress wrestles with an authorization for the U.S. military to strike Syria. The Vice President is scheduled to visit Panama and Mexico next week.

The itinerary included a visit to the Panama Canal’s expansion projects and meetings with the presidents of Mexico and Panama.

However, Biden, speaking at an event in Baltimore about ports and infrastructure, says he may have to postpone his trip to Panama. He’s pointing to pressures in the Senate, where lawmakers are debating President Barack Obama’s request for a military response to chemical weapons use in Syria.

Biden didn’t mention whether Mexico may also be postponed.

China said on Tuesday it backed a Russian proposal for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons for destruction, a plan that could avert planned U.S. military strikes in response to the country’s suspected use of its arsenal on civilians.

President Barack Obama has argued that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, fighting to continue his family’s four-decade rule, must be punished for what Washington says was a poison gas attack on rebel areas that killed more than 1,400 people on August 21.

Hours after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday commented that a strike could be avoided if the Syrian leadership handed over its chemical weapons, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he had put a proposal to his visiting Syrian counterpart during talks in Moscow.

“We welcome and support the Russian proposal,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a regular news briefing.

“As long as it is a proposal that helps ameliorate the current tense situation in Syria, is beneficial to maintaining peace and stability in Syria and the region, and is beneficial to a political resolution, the international community ought to give it positive consideration,” Hong said.

Hong added that a Syrian opposition delegation from the “All-Nation Union for Dialogue” was visiting China from Tuesday at the invitation of an academic group and would meet Chinese officials for a “deep exchange of views.”

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