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U.S. threat of Syria strikes key to any diplomatic solution: Hagel

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L), Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (C) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Martin
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L), Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (C) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Martin

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is hopeful a proposal for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons might avert the need for military strikes, but Washington must uphold that threat for any diplomatic option to succeed, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Tuesday.

"All of us are hopeful that this option might be a real solution to this crisis. Yet, we must be very clear-eyed and ensure that it's not a stalling tactic," Hagel told a congressional hearing.

"For this diplomatic option to have a chance of succeeding, the threat of a U.S. military action - the credible, real threat of U.S. military action - must continue."

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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