President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One before his departure, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Obama is traveling to Sweden and later to the G-20 Summit in St. Peterburg, Russia. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Deep uncertainty surrounding military action against Syria hangs over President Barack Obama’s three-day overseas trip to Sweden and Russia, which takes him away from Washington just as he’s seeking support on Capitol Hill for a strike.
Before he departed Tuesday night, Obama urged lawmakers meeting with him at the White House to support his plan to punish Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons to attack its own people. The president won the backing of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, though that hardly guarantees support in the fractured House of Representatives.
The president also will seek to bolster international support for a strike during talks with world leaders this week at the Group of 20 summit. Those efforts will pit him against Russian president and summit host Vladimir Putin, who has perhaps done the most to stymie international efforts to oust Syria’s Bashar Assad.
Obama and Putin’s clashing views on Syria have worsened a relationship already rife with tension from differences on human rights, missile defense, and the Russia’s decision to grant asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
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