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EU foreign ministers seek to paper over divisions on Syria strikes

EU foreign ministers will try to put on a united front at talks in Luxembourg on Monday despite divisions over the strikes on Syria and how to handle the growing diplomatic crisis with Moscow.

Germany's powerful Chancellor Angela Merkel may have declared the strikes by the US, Britain and France "necessary and appropriate", but other EU members are resisting any step that could lead to further escalation.  

While the EU's 28 members agree the incident was unacceptable and cannot go unpunished, a statement issued by EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini on Saturday stopped short of endorsing the strikes, saying only that those responsible "will be held accountable for this violation of international law".  NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg unequivocally backed the strikes, saying they would reduce Assad's ability to use chemical weapons.

But EU states are divided -- at one end of the scale are France and Britain, at the other are neutral countries and in between various NATO members with differing views on strikes. "The statement of the 28 is the maximum that could be said," a European source said. Some European governments are holding back because they are concerned about the reaction from Russia, which among other things remains a key supplier of gas to the EU.

At Monday's meeting in Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers will discuss how to put pressure on Moscow to try to end the seven-year conflict in Syria. "We must increase pressure on Russia to force it to change attitude. Everyone knows there is only a solution to the conflict in Syria with Russia," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Friday.

Source: Digital Journal


Päivitetty/Updated: 16.04.2018

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