EU's Ashton: strong evidence Syrian govt behind chemical attack

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The European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Saturday EU's 28 nations agreed that available information show strong evidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical attack on civilians in August.

“(The government) is the only one that possesses chemical weapons agents and the means of their delivery in a sufficient quantity,” Ashton told reporters after meeting EU foreign ministers in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, Reuters reported.

She said that ministers agreed that the world “cannot remain idle” and said a clear and strong response was needed to prevent any future use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Germany along with 10 other nations will sign a Group of 20 statement calling for a strong international response to Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Saturday.

“After we saw this excellent and very wise position of the European Union, the (German) Chancellor (Angela Merkel) and myself decided that we support now the G20 statement, “Westerwelle said according to Reuters.

The attack in August has left more than 1000 people dead, according to Syrian opposition sources.

The ministers did stop short however, of supporting the military operation proposed by the United States and France.

Ashton said that the EU ministers welcomed French President Francois Hollande's commitment to wait for a report by United Nations inspectors on the incident before taking any action.

“The EU underscores...the need to move forward with addressing the Syrian crisis through the U.N. process,” she said.

The much-awaited report from the United Nations team of inspectors on the attack in Syria has not been released yet.

France is the only country ready to take part of the military strike along the United States. Congress will return from recess on Monday and Obama will address the nation on Tuesday regarding a possible attack on Syria.

(with Reuters)

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