Speaking to the UN General Assembly, Mr Obama laid out US priorities for the volatile Middle East and North Africa. He stressed that it wanted diplomatic outcomes to festering disputes, but did not rule out military force.
Mr Obama stepped back from launching unilateral military action against Syria early this month, setting in motion a diplomatic effort that led to Russian assistance in persuading Syria to agree to give up its chemical weapons after a poison gas attack on August 21 said to have killed 1429 people.
With Syria's promise not yet fulfilled, Mr Obama's challenge was to persuade world leaders to join in applying pressure on Syria with a UN Security Council resolution that includes tough consequences should Assad not surrender his chemical weapons stockpiles in a verifiable way.
"The Syrian government took a first step by giving an accounting of its stockpiles. Now, there must be a strong Security Council resolution to verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments," said Obama. The worry is that Russia might veto any explicit threat of force against Syria.