Some local representatives wary, some OK with Russian plan

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The United Nations Security Council is meeting on a resolution aimed at securing and destroying Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles.

The Syrian government has accepted a proposal from Russia, its most powerful ally, to give up its chemical weapons stockpiles. France has announced that it plans to introduce a Security Council resolution to ensure international verification of the disarmament.

The White House said the U.S., France and Britain have agreed to work closely together, and in consultation with Russia and China, "to explore seriously the viability of the Russian proposal."

Most of northeast Florida's representatives are skeptical about the proposal, saying its hard to trust Syria and Russia. But others say it deserves serious thought.

President Barack Obama is putting hope in the U.N.-backed plan by Russia to have Syria turn over chemical weapons. But the president continues to push forth the idea of air strikes against Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown, who always backs the president, met with him and other members of the black caucus in a meeting Monday. Her staff said Monday she was on the fence about military intervention, but on Tuesday Brown said she backs him completely.

As for the Russian plan, she said she supports their involvement and pushed for Russian involvement last week.

But others like Republican Rep. Ander Crenshaw are very leery of the plan.

"I think we have to be very skeptical to think that Assad, who denies he has any chemical weapons, would now decide he is going to turn them over to the international community, and that (Russian President Vladimir Putin), who blocked our attempts to hold Assad accountable, is now going to be the broker in all of this," Crenshaw said.

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has been in favor of an air strike from the start. In a statement Tuesday, he said, "It is the threat of military force that has brought Assad to the point of considering international control of his chemical weapons. ... To ensure this happens, I believe a credible threat of American military force must remain on the table."

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