Hollande: France’s will on Syria unchanged despite UK vote

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The British parliament’s vote against taking military action in Syria will not affect France’s will to punish President Bashar al-Assad’s government for purported chemical weapons attacks on civilians, Reuters reported French President Francois Hollande as saying

In an interview with the daily Le Monde, Hollande said France could take action without Britain.

“Yes. Each country is sovereign to participate, or not, in an operation. That is valid for Britain as it is for France,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

After a grueling debate on Thursday, the British parliament rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s motion to wage a military strike against Syria.

Hollande, meanwhile, supported taking “firm” punitive action over an attack he described had caused “irreparable” harm to the Syrian people. He said he would work closely with France’s allies.

His statement comes after he previously expressed a diluted French stance to participate in a strike against Syria on Thursday.

He said “everything must be done to seek a political solution” to end the Syrian crisis after Thursday’s Paris meeting with the Syrian opposition chief, Ahmed al-Jarba, who earlier championed military action against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

On Thursday, the French government spokeswomen, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, told France 2 television that Western plans for retaliatory action against Assad’s regime for an alleged chemical weapons attack are “difficult to develop.”

On Friday, Germany ‘s foreign minister ruled out his country’s participation in a Syrian military strike.

Guido Westerwelle told newspaper Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung that such military action had “neither been asked nor is it being considered by us,” Agence France-Presse quoted from comments pre-released by the paper.

Russia, Syria’s most powerful international ally, continued to oppose any United Nations Security Council resolution that would permit military strikes against Syria.

The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the ITAR-TASS news agency that his country “opposes any resolution of the U.N. Security Council indicating the probability of the use of force, [or] any resolution that could be used for military action against Syria.”

China, another opponent for military action on Syria, said on Friday that there should be no rush to force U.N. Security Council action against Syria until a probe by U.N. experts into suspected chemical weapons use is complete.

In their last day of investigation, U.N. inspectors headed to suspected chemical weapons sites in Syria on Friday.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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