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Syria to Be Solved Internally Not by U.S. Action: Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York on May 28, 2014. Photographer: Jim Watson /AFP via Getty Images

May 29 (Bloomberg) -- The conflict in Syria will be solved only by the groups within the that country, not by U.S. military involvement, President Barack Obama told NPR News in an interview.

Obama spoke about empowering Syrian moderate opposition following a commencement speech yesterday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he laid out his foreign policy goals for the final years of his presidency.

“I still do not believe that American military actions can resolve what is increasingly a sectarian civil war,” Obama said in the interview scheduled to air today. “Ultimately, the only way you’re going to get a resolution that works for the Syrian people and the region is going to -- is going to require some sort of political accommodation between the various groups there.”

The White House yesterday said it will ask Congress for $5 billion for an anti-terrorism fund to train other countries in a supplemental budget request for the Defense Department.

The role for the U.S. in Syria is limited by the nature of the conflict and how quickly “we can ramp up the capacity of that opposition,” Obama told NPR.

At least 162,000 people have been killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based group, and millions more have been displaced, the United Nations says. Two rounds of internationally monitored talks between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and Syrian rebels failed to produce even an agreement on an agenda.

“What we don’t want to do is set folks up for failure,” Obama said. “What we don’t want to do is make promises that we cannot keep.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Angela Greiling Keane in Washington at agreilingkea@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net Michael Shepard

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