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France urges European Union to unanimously condemn chemical weapons attack by Syria

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius DR

France is urging the European Union to unanimously condemn a chemical weapons attack near Damascus and agree it was carried out by the Syrian regime, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced this morning.

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 Speaking to the French press agency before attending a meeting with his European counterparts, Fabius said the 28-bloc should secure an agreement that “condemns the usage of chemical weapons and notes that the proof that we have been given shows that it was the regime of Bashar al-Assad behind the massacre”.

Meanwhile, as the G20 summit enters its final day in St. Petersburg, the international community appears no closer yet at bridging divides over the civil war in Syria.

So far, France, the United States and Turkey are the only G20 members committed to using force in Syria. Russia and China continue to strongly oppose any military action, while the majority of the remaining members remain concerned about supporting such action without a UN Security Council resolution in place.

US President Barack Obama arrived yesterday with high hopes of winning support for an armed strike against Assad’s regime following its alleged use of chemical weapons.

Although the G20’s main agenda this year was to focus on the global economy, all talk has fallen back to the issue on everyone’s minds: Syria. Russian President and host of this summer, Vladimir Putin, made a last-minute announcement last night over dinner for participants to voice their opinions about Syria.

“The G20 has just now finished the dinner session at which the division about Syria were confirmed” tweeted Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, following the in-promptu dinner discussion.

Russia continues to lead the opposition against a US-led military action against Syria, that Washington says was committed by the Assad regime.

Putin has repeatedly blocked attempts at a UN resolution for any military intervention.

“Military action would have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on the oil price – it will cause a hike in the oil price,” said Chinese Deputy Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon later told leaders at the G20 dinner that any military action must have the Security Council’s backing, and urged the members to find a political solution as soon as possible.

US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, accused Russian of holding the UN Security Council “hostage” over the Syrian chemical weapons crisis.

"Even in the wake of the flagrant shattering of the international norm against chemical weapons use, Russia continues to hold the council hostage and shirk its international responsibilities," said Power.

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