Hollande says Europe must respond to chemical attack
French president François Hollande on Tuesday called on Europe to meet to find a response to the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, which he said could not remain unanswered.
"Europe must also unite on this issue. It will do so, each country with its own responsibility," Hollande said during a joint press conference with German President Joachim Gauck, who is currently on a state visit to France.
"When a chemical massacre takes place, when the world knows about it, when the evidence is delivered, when the guilty parties are known, then there must be a response. It is expected that the international community react,” he said.
EU foreign ministers are already scheduled to meet this weekend in Vilnius.
France is pushing, along with the United States, for military strikes against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, in response to an alleged August 21 chemical weapons attack that Washington says killed more than 1,400 people.
Hollande said today that a large coalition, including the United States, Europe and Arab countries should be created to punish the Damascus regime.
The French president said that if the US Congress decided against a military intervention when it votes on the matter next week, then France would not “act alone, but would shoulder her responsibilities … [including] giving support to the opposition in Syria”
In answer to a question about Assad’s threats against French interests, should Paris intervene, Hollande told journalists that such threats strengthened his determination to act.
Hollande also insisted that it was too early to talk about whether there would be a vote in the French parliament before any military intervention.
Opposition MPs are demanding a vote on the matter, citing similar votes in Britain and next week in the US Congress.
The French minister responsible for liaison with parliament, Alain Vidalies, suggested on Tuesday that Hollande was prepared to consider such a vote.
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