WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that there will ultimately need to be a political transition in Syria in which President Bashar Assad gives up power in the wake of a deal aimed at gaining international control of Syrian chemical weapons.
"Keep in mind that it's very hard to imagine that (the Syrian) civil war dying down if in fact Assad is still in power," Obama told the Spanish-language network Telemundo.
Obama said it is still his goal to "transition him out of power" in a way that protects Syria's religious minorities and ensures Islamist extremists are not gaining ground inside the country, where more than 100,000 people have been killed in a 2-1/2-year civil war.
"But you know, we're going to take this one step at a time. The first step right now is to make sure we can deal with the chemical weapons issue," said Obama.