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Obama declines to say if will strike Syria if U.S. Congress votes 'no'

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses during a news conference at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg September 6, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Barack Obama pauses during a news conference at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg September 6, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

ST. PETERSBURG (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Friday declined to speculate whether he would go ahead with a military strike in Syria if Congress votes against authorizing it, saying he would try to convince Americans and lawmakers of the need to act against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

"I put it before Congress because I could not honestly claim that the threat posed by Assad's use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians and women and children posed an imminent, direct threat to the United States," Obama said in a news conference at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg.

If there had been a direct threat to the United States or allies, Obama said he would have taken action without consulting Congress.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Roberta Rampton, Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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