Kerry seeks European support on Syria strike after G20 divisions

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will seek on Saturday to gain EU’s support over a potential attack of Syria after a G20 summit failed to resolve U.S.-Russian divisions on the issue.

Kerry will press the case for punitive action against Syria after what the United States says was a chemical weapons attack by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad near Damascus last month.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian leader Vladimir Putin failed to resolve their differences at the summit in Saint Petersburg on Friday as half of the G20 called for a "strong" response to the alleged chemical attack.

With the European nations were split on the issue, Kerry will be in talks with 28 foreign ministers of the bloc in Lithuania, which currently holds the EU's rotating chair.

Later on Saturday, the Secretary of State will head to Paris for talks with French officials. He will also meet Arab League leaders to update them on Syria and on progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

France is the only country ready to take part of the military strike, Britain, whose parliament voted against any actions- and Denmark have showed their support.

France was one of four European nations with Britain, Italy and Spain that signed a statement Friday at the G20 meeting calling for a “strong international response” to the chemical attack widely attributed to the Assad regime, AFP reported.

The statement signed by 11 of the G20 nations but not by Germany said the response would “send a clear message that this kind of atrocity can never be repeated” but did not specify military action.

Obama said Friday in Saint Petersburg that the world could not "stand idly by" but Putin warned that it would be "outside the law" to attack without the U.N.'s blessing.

The Russian President also said that Russia is willing to “help Syria” in the event of a U.S. strike, highlighting the existence of military, economic and humanitarian cooperation between the two countries.

Obama is still awaiting the Congress’ authorization for military action. The lawmakers will reconvene on Monday and the President will address the nation on Tuesday.

The United States has been preparing for a military strike, evacuating non-essential embassy staff from Beirut. It also asked Americans to avoid all travel to Lebanon and southern Turkey.

The report from the United Nations team of inspectors on the August attack in Syria, which opposition sources say left more than 1000 people dead, has not been released yet, as many nations at the summit vowed to wait for the results before taking any military actions.

(With AFP)

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