TODAY   |  September 11, 2013

President, Congress pause on Syria strike

President Obama is exploring diplomatic options after Syria agreed to a last-minute Russian resolution. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports.

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>> begin this morning with new developments on the crisis in syria . president obama telling the nation he is willing to hold off on air strikes for now. peter alexander is on the story at the white house this morning. peter, good morning to you.

>> savannah, good morning to you. congress is not going to vote on anything in terms of authorizing strikes in syria . the president asked them to delay that after a primetime speech that offered more of a reset than any resolution. no immediate vote. it could be weeks or months before any possible air strikes in syria as the president now pursues diplomatic options, first.

>> reporter: it was one of the most critical moments of the obama presidency.

>> these things happened. the facts cannot be denied.

>> reporter: president obama insisting that failing to act after the assad regime's use of chemical weapons against it's own people would imbolden iran and set a dangerous precedent.

>> our troops would face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield and it could be easier to obtain the weapons and use them to attack civilians.

>> reporter: but facing overwhelming opposition and a last mindy employee mattic offer the president hit the pause button presenting himself as a reluctant advocate for military action but arguing that the threat of strikes already lead to new talks. secretary of state john kerry will meet with his russian counter part tomorrow.

>> it's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed and any agreement must verify they keep their commitments.

>> reporter: the remarks came on the eve of today's anniversary. 12 years since 9/11 and four months since americans were killed in benghazi. there's skepticism about another conflict overseas.

>> a vet van put it more bluntly, this nation is sick and tired of war. my answer is simple, i will not put american boots on the ground in syria .

>> reporter: doubting american exceptionalism . president obama concluded with a moral argument for action.

>> when with modest effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and make our own children safer in the long run, i believe we should ask.

>> will his words change minds? he doesn't think so. hours before that address president obama conceded to republican senators, polls aren't going to change. he said i'm good but i'm not that good. one man that may have reason to celebrate today is bashar al assad . for now strikes are on the back burner and on this 9/11 anniversary he is celebrating his 48th birthday. savannah.

>>> peter alexander , thank you.