UK: Action over Syria possible without UN unity

UK: Action over Syria possible without UN unity

Foreign Secretary Hague accuses Security Council of shirking responsibilities; Germany voices support for international intervention

British Foreign Secretary William Hague (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90/File)
British Foreign Secretary William Hague (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90/File)

LONDON  — Diplomatic pressure has not worked on Syria’s government, Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said Monday, adding that a response to alleged chemical weapon use there is possible without complete unity in the United Nations Security Council.

Hague accused the Security Council of “not shouldering its responsibilities” over the Syria crisis, saying disagreements among the five members have prevented any action over Syria for too long.

“Is it possible to respond to chemical weapons without complete unity in the UN Security Council? I would argue yes it is,” Hague said an interview with the BBC.

He would not specify what action Britain is prepared to take, but said that any response will be “in accordance with international law.”

“We cannot in the 21st century allow the idea that chemical weapons can be used with impunity,” he said in the statement — even as he conceded that the UN may not find enough evidence to give a conclusive result.

A spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said the government is prepared to recall lawmakers to Parliament ahead of schedule so that they could debate any action over Syria, although it would “reserve the ability to take action very swiftly if needed.”

Meanwhile on the continent, the German government for the first time suggested that it would support an international military response against Syria if it is confirmed that President Bashar Assad’s troops attacked opponents with chemical weapons.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday that if UN inspectors confirm the use of chemical weapons, “it must be punished.”

Seibert says the government believes there is a “very high probably of a poison gas attack.” He says he won’t speculate on what kind of response might be needed but would not rule out the use of force.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement that if the attack is confirmed “Germany would be among those who consider consequences to be appropriate.”

Merkel on Saturday urged a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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