President Barack Obama spoke to French President Francois Hollande on Saturday and the two leaders agreed the world must send a strong message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that chemical weapons use was unacceptable, the White House said.
“The two leaders agreed that the international community must deliver a resolute message to the Assad regime - and others who would consider using chemical weapons - that these crimes are unacceptable and those who violate this international norm will be held accountable by the world,” the White House said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Obama and Hollande spoke by telephone before Obama’s statement that he would seek authorization from Congress before any strike.
“The president reaffirmed to him his determination to act to sanction the regime,” a source close to Hollande said. “Each country’s pace of action must above all be respected. It’s important for the Americans to have the green light from Congress.”
However, pressure was now mounting on Hollande to also seek formal approval from parliament, which is due to hold anon-voting debate on Syria on Sept. 4.
“Like the U.S. president, who decided to consult the U.S. Congress in the name of democratic principles, the French president must organize, after the debate, a formal vote in parliament,” Jean-Louis Borloo, the head of French opposition party UDI, said in a statement.
A BVA poll on Saturday showed most French people did not want France to take part in military action on Syria and most did not trust Hollande to do so.
Hollande, whose popularity has been hurt by economic gloom, showed unexpected military mettle when he dispatched troops to help Mali’s government fend off Islamist rebels earlier this year, an intervention backed by two-thirds of the public.