McCain was asked in a nationally broadcast "CBS This Morning" interview to comment on a proposal by Russia, embraced by Syria, for President Bashar Assad to relinquish his chemical weapons stockpile.
Assad has not publicly acknowledged having such weapons, and President Barack Obama is seeking congressional authorization to attack Syria in reprisal for an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that the U.S. blames on Assad's regime.
McCain, an Arizona Republican and harsh Obama critic, said Tuesday there is "incoherence" in the administration's statements. But he also said that "not to pursue" the diplomatic option "would be a mistake."
McCain said he will propose an amendment to the Senate's Syria resolution incorporating the proposal for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons. The amendment would require verification through international monitors and call for guidelines and benchmarks to be met.
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