Washington: Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton on Monday said a Russian plan for Syria to hand over its chemical arms would be an "important step" even as she warned that Russians must "be held accountable" that the new initiative was not an excuse to delay military actions.
Emerging from a meeting with US President Barack Obama, Clinton supported military strike against Syria, saying Bashar al-Assad has "violated a norm at the heart of our global order", and argued that his actions "demand a response".
"The international community cannot ignore the ongoing threat from the Assad regime`s stockpile of chemical weapons. This is about protecting the Syrian people and our friends in the region," Clinton said.
This is for the first time that the former Secretary of State has spoken on the issue.
"If the regime immediately surrenders its stockpiles to international control...That would be an important step, but this cannot be another delay or obstruction," she said.
Clinton seemed dubious that Assad would agree to such a measure, and said his regime and the Russians must "be held accountable" to ensure that it wasn`t a gambit designed to delay military action by the US.
She urged that Russia must sincerely help international efforts to defuse the crisis.
Russia`s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged Syria to place its chemical weapons under international supervision to "avoid military strikes".
Lauding Obama administration for its strong push to hold Syria accountable for its use of chemical weapons, Clinton said this discussion that is taking place today only could take place in the context of a credible military threat by the US to keep pressure on the Syrian government as well as those supporting Syria like Russia, she said.
The US has alleged that the Assad regime had used nerve agent sarin on August 21 that left at least 1,429 people dead. The Syrian government has denied the charge.
The former top American diplomat urged the international community to get on board with the US and to hold Syria accountable.
"The broader conflict in Syria is a threat to regional stability and security to our allies and partners, as well as a humanitarian catastrophe," she said in her speech at a Wildlife Trafficking Forum.
Meanwhile, Politico reported that Clinton called at least two Senators -- Mark Pryor, Chuck Schumer -- to take up Obama`s case on Syria.