Thanks;Russ Britt, MarketWatch
LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — As the U.S. Congress continued to wrestle with the prospect of a military strike on Syria, the European Union on Saturday called for a “clear and strong response” to Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people.
A statement from Catherine Ashton, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy — dubbed as the agreed position from all 28 member nations of the union — called for action against the Syrian government.
But the statement goes on to call for a “political solution” and stops short of encouraging military strikes.
“Only a political solution can end the terrible bloodshed, grave violations of human rights and the far-reaching destruction of Syria. An encompassing diplomatic process leading to a political solution is now more urgent than ever,” the statement said.
It goes on to say: “The initiative for a ‘Geneva II’ peace conference, must move ahead swiftly. The EU is ready to provide all support needed to achieve a political settlement and work with partners and international actors, particularly the United Nations.”
Ashton’s statement called for addressing the crisis through the United Nations, and said the U.N. Security Council should “unite in its efforts to prevent any further chemical attack.” It also encouraged the council to “fulfill its responsibilities and take all initiatives to achieve this goal.”
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Obama leaves G-20 summit with only tepid backing on Syria
Ten countries joined the U.S. in calling for a “strong international response” to a chemical-weapons attack in Syria, but half of the G-20 spurned President Obama’s push for support..
The EU confirmed there is “strong evidence” the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad conducted a large-scale chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus on Aug. 21, killing hundreds — women and children among them. It called the attack a “blatant violation of international law, a war crime and a crime against humanity.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress continues to debate whether to support President Barack Obama’s calls for a military strike against al-Assad.
The question surfacing on Capitol Hill is whether Obama will forge ahead with a strike even if Congress doesn’t support a resolution approving it.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the resolution on Wednesday, and Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has predicted the full Senate will approve it.
The Republican House, however, may be another story as representatives on both sides of the aisle are indicating they’re split on whether to go ahead with a strike.
Obama is expected to take his case to the American people on Tuesday.