(CNN) – Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, said Tuesday he welcomed the decision to expel Syrian diplomats from the United States, but that President Barack Obama was weak in his handling of the troubled nation.
"I welcome the expulsion of Syrian diplomats by the United States and other partner nations," Romney wrote in a statement. "But it only underscores the need for more assertive measures to end the Assad regime. President Obama's lack of leadership has resulted in a policy of paralysis that has watched Assad slaughter 10,000 individuals."
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On Tuesday the United States, along with seven other countries, announced they were expelling Syrian diplomats after a massacre over the weekend in Houla. Australia, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Canada joined the U.S. in the coordinated move.
The U.S. State Department decided to expel the Syrian charge d'affaires, two State Department officials told CNN. Zouheir Jabbour was called to the department Tuesday morning and was told that he and his family have 72 hours to leave.
He has been the top Syrian envoy in the United States since the ambassador, Imad Moustapha, was called back to Syria in October in a response move after the United States said it was pulling its ambassador out of Syria.
Romney has said in the past that Obama, along with his national security team, are weak in dealing with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In his statement Tuesday, Romney said the U.S. should put pressure on Russia to stop dealing weapons to the Syrian government.
"We should increase pressure on Russia to cease selling arms to the Syrian government and to end its obstruction at the United Nations," Romney wrote. "And we should work with partners to arm the opposition so they can defend themselves."
In the White House briefing Tuesday, press secretary Jay Carney said arming the Syrian opposition could lead to more trouble.
"The concern is that further militarization of the situation in Syria could lead to greater chaos, could make it harder to achieve the political transition that the Syrian people deserve," Carney said. "The nature and shape of and membership of the opposition is still something that we and our partners are assessing and that is another consideration that has to be acknowledged when efforts like that are undertaken."
Romney said over the weekend that the United States needed to take on a bigger role in Syria, writing the killings in Houla signaled it was time for intervention.
"The Assad regime's massacre of civilians in Haoula-many of them young children-is horrific," Romney wrote in a statement Sunday. "After nearly a year and a half of slaughter, it is far past time for the United States to begin to lead and put an end to the Assad regime."