EU foreign policy chief says evidence points to Syria gov't being behind chemical attack
VILNIUS - Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) is greeted by European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton as he arrives for a meeting of EU ministers of foreign affairs at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius Sept. 7. REUTERS photoThe European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Sept. 7 the EU's 28 nations agreed that available information seemed to show strong evidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical attack on civilians in August.
"(The government) is the only one that possesses chemical weapons agents and the means of their delivery in a sufficient quantity," Ashton told reporters after meeting EU foreign ministers in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius
The ministers agreed, she said, that the world "cannot remain idle" and said a clear and strong response was needed to prevent any future use of chemical weapons in Syria.
But they stopped short of lending support to military action proposed by the United States and France. Washington says the Aug. 21 attack killed more than 1,400 people.
Ashton said EU ministers welcomed French President Francois Hollande's commitment to wait for a report by United Nations inspectors on the incident before taking any action.
"The EU underscores...the need to move forward with addressing the Syrian crisis through the U.N. process," she said.
Kerry welcomed statement
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the statement after meeting EU foreign ministers in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.
"We are very grateful for the statement that came out of the meeting today with respect to Syria -- a strong statement about the need for accountability," Kerry said.