Hagel: U.S. still seeks ‘international coalition on Syria’

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The United States will continue to seek out an international coalition to act together on Syria, despite a vote against military action by British MPs, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday.

“Our approach is to continue to find an international coalition that will act together. And I think you’re seeing a number of countries state, publicly state, their position on the use of chemical weapons,” Reuters quoted Hagel as saying during a trip to the Philippines.

He said the “goal of President [Barack] Obama and our government ... whatever decision is taken, that it be an international collaboration and effort.”

He added that Washington respected the British parliament’s stance rejecting participation in any punitive strikes against the Syrian regime and that it would continue consulting with Britain.

“We are continuing to consult with the British as with all of our allies. That consultation includes ways forward together on a response to this chemical weapons attack in Syria,” Agence France-Presse quoted Hagel as saying.

On Thursday, a House of Commons vote defeated British Prime Minister David Cameron’s attempt to win support for military intervention in Syria.

“Every nation has a responsibility to make its own decisions,” Hagel said.

The defense secretary said he couldn’t speculate if there was anything Syria could do to avert possible U.S. military action.

“I have not been informed of any change in the Assad regime’s position on any issue. I deal with the reality with what we have. I don’t speculate on hypothetical situations.”

Syria drew international anger when the country’s opposition accused it of using chemical weapons in an attack on a Damascus district on Aug. 21, leaving hundreds of people killed.

Cameron told parliament on Thursday that it had to “make a judgment” about a military strike on Syria, saying there was no “100-percent certainty” the Syrian regime used chemical weapons.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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