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Bordallo, Sablan close ranks on Syrian chemical attack issue

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Will examine Obama plan

THE congressional delegates from both Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands have decried the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. And both said they intend to participate fully in the upcoming discussions in Congress when the House takes up President Barack Obama’s request for authorization to use military force.

Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo called the attacks “reprehensible and a clear violation of international laws.”

“This type of crime against humanity by the Assad regime must be condemned and we must hold the regime accountable,” she said in a statement from her office.

She said if the United Nations had not been stymied by China and Russia, it might have been able to form an international coalition and acted to stop the attacks.

“Given the challenges at the UN, I support President Obama’s call for the U.S. strike against Syria for their use of chemical weapons,” Bordallo said. “If Syria’s actions go unanswered, the consequences and impact on American power across the world would be significant and detrimental. I believe that the authorization can allow the president to seek a limited strike that would inhibit the Assad regime’s ability to use chemical weapons against his own people.”

Bordallo and CNMI Delegate Gregorio Sablan said they wanted to know the objectives of any action and an exit strategy.

Close watch

“As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will continue to keep a very close watch on the situation and I look forward to further discussions on this matter when I return to Washington as the Obama administration engages in further conversations with Congress on the best course of action,” she said.

Sablan noted that the CNMI has lost 18 service members during the past decade. “Before putting any more lives at risk, I want to know that we are certain of why we are acting and we have an endgame,” he said in a statement. “Most important of all, I want to be certain that we have looked at every alternative before the U.S. commits its military forces or limited financial resources.”

Sablan was one of 61 members of Congress who signed an Aug. 29 letter to Obama urging the president to seek congressional approval before taking action. “I thank the president for heeding our call,” he said. Neither Guam nor the CNMI has a floor vote in Congress. “Yet, our men and women in the military could be put in harm’s way by a decision to use force in Syria,” Sablan added.

“We cannot stand by while chemical weapons are being used in violation of international law,” he said. “But we cannot send Americans to war without clearly defined goals that make the risk worthwhile.”

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