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British Foreign Secretary Supports Strong Response to Syria

  • VOA News

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague leaves 10 Downing street following a national security meeting at Downing Street in London, Aug. 28, 2013.

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague leaves 10 Downing street following a national security meeting at Downing Street in London, Aug. 28, 2013.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague says he believes there should be a strong response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, despite a British parliament vote that rejected joining military action against the Assad government.

Hague said Sunday "the use of chemical weapons in the 21st century is an evil that we have to stand up to."

Britain's top diplomat said he backed the anticipated U.S.-led air strike to stop President Bashar al-Assad's regime from using poison gas again.

Hague said what the U.S. is talking about is a "limited proportionate response to the use of chemical weapons to try to deter the use of chemical weapons."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby before the start of a meeting with representatives of the Arab League at the United States Embassy in Paris, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby before the start of a meeting with representatives of the Arab League at the United States Embassy in Paris, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who meets with Arab League officials Sunday in Paris before heading to London, says international support is growing for holding the Syrian government responsible for the attack.

"This is growing, not receding, in terms of the global sense of outrage of what’s happened,” said Kerry.

He commented during a Saturday news conference in Paris with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

Earlier in the day, Kerry met with European foreign ministers in Lithuania in a bid to strengthen support, as the U.S. considers a military strike against Syria.

After the meeting, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton read a statement for the group that called for a "clear and strong response" to the attack in Syria but stopped short of specifying military action.

Ashton also said the EU wants Syria's crisis to be addressed by the United Nations. She said any further action against Damascus should be delayed until a U.N. chemical weapons team presents its findings.

Kerry said the European leaders had made a "powerful statement" even though some countries still did not believe in military action.

He also said President Barack Obama had not made a decision on waiting on the report from the U.N. team.

Meanwhile, Syrian activists said Sunday Islamic extremists have taken control of a Christian village, north of Damascus. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime forces had withdrawn from Maalula after clashing with the Nusra Front.

Obama said Saturday in his weekly recorded address that failing to respond to what he called Syria's "outrageous attack" would increase a risk of further chemical weapons attacks.

The president's address on Syria came a day after he wrapped up a visit to Russia for the G20 economic summit.

During the trip, Obama held bilateral meetings on Syria with leaders of the world's major economies. He received support from the leaders of France, Turkey and other nations, but Russian President Vladimir Putin remained adamantly opposed to any attack on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Obama takes his case for targeted military strikes on Damascus directly to the American people in a televised speech Tuesday.

The U.S. Congress is expected to vote on possible U.S. action against Syria in coming weeks. A key Senate panel voted last Wednesday in favor of action.

U.S. officials say they have evidence that more than 1,400 people were killed by poison gas in an attack on August 21 in areas on the fringe of Damascus populated by supporters of the opposition.
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