UK Foreign Secretary: Chemical Weapons is Wider Issue Than Syria

Sunday, 08 Sep 2013 07:46 AM

 

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LONDON — British Foreign Secretary William Hague called Sunday for a strong response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, saying the issue went wider than the conflict in the Middle Eastern country.

Hague said that although the British parliament had rejected joining military action against Syria, he backed anticipated US-led air strikes to stop President Bashar al-Assad's regime using poison gas again.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due to arrive in London on Sunday for talks with Hague as part of a swing through European capitals to drum up support for action on Syria.

"I do believe very strongly that the world must stand up against the use of chemical weapons. The risks of not doing so in my view are greater than the risks of doing so," Hague told BBC television.

He added: "This issue is about chemical weapons, which is a bigger issue than Syria.

"What the United States have been talking about, what we were talking about before the vote in parliament, is a limited and proportionate response to the use of chemical weapons to deter the use of chemical weapons.

"Allowing the spread of use of chemical weapons in the 21st century is an evil that we have to stand up to, one way or another."

British Prime Minister David Cameron suffered a stunning defeat on Aug. 29 when lawmakers rejected his proposal to join military action following an alleged regime chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs that killed hundreds of people.

Hague reiterated that the government was "not planning" another vote "unless the circumstances change dramatically."

He insisted that Britain's close ties with Washington had not been affected by not joining U.S.-led military action, saying that the Americans had been "very understanding."

His comments came as a poll showed that just a quarter of Britons support U.S. missile strikes against Syria, even if Britain is not involved.

Only 25 percent back them while 47 percent oppose them, and 73 percent oppose US action without UN approval, according to the YouGov poll for the Sunday Times newspaper, which surveyed 1,916 people on September 5 and 6.

© AFP 2014

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