Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Lori Hinnant / The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Western nations calling for military action against Syria have no proof that the Syrian government is behind the alleged chemical weapons attack.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his country would take part in an international coalition against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime if the U.N. failed to come up with sanctions to punish Syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons.
Turkey was once a close Syrian ally, but turned into one of Assad's harshest critics and is a key supporter of Syrian rebels. Turkey has repeatedly struck back at Syrian territory in response to shelling, mortar rounds or fire from across the border since shells from Syria struck a Turkish village in October, killing five people.
Speaking to reporters in the South Korean capital of Seoul, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said "if proven, any use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances is a serious violation of international law and an outrageous crime. We cannot allow impunity in what appears to be a grave crime against humanity."
In New York, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said: "Despite the passage of a number of days, the secretary-general is confident that the team will be able to obtain and analyze evidence relevant for its investigation of the Aug. 21 incident."
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said a decision about military intervention in Syria hasn't been made yet and the support of the U.N. Security Council for any such action remains "extremely important."
Ashton told reporters in Estonia's capital, Tallinn, the world "needs to find a political solution" for Syria's bloodshed. She said it is difficult for the 28-member EU to reach a joint conclusion, but the bloc is considering "various options."
Ashton said she has stressed the need to end the violence in "recent conversations with China and Russia." She also said it is important that U.N. weapons inspectors are allowed to examine the evidence of a possible chemical weapons attack "as quickly as possible to reach a conclusion."
The Obama administration was expected to toughen its criticism of Syria's alleged chemical weapons use, with Secretary of State John Kerry cutting his vacation short to address the crisis as the U.S. considers possible military actions.
President Shimon Peres has called on the U.N. to appoint the Arab League to set up a temporary government in Syria to stop the bloodshed.
Peres' comments marked the highest-profile Israeli call for international intervention in neighboring Syria. Israel has been careful to stay on the sidelines of Syria's civil war, which has killed more than 100,000. But international demands have been growing for action amid the chemical weapons attack allegations.
Peres said "foreigners will not understand what is going on in Syria" so the U.N. should task the Arab League with setting up a government.