Rasmussen against Syria intervention

Rasmussen against Syria intervention

BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
Rasmussen against Syria intervention

‘We do believe the right way forward as regards to Syria is a political solution,’ NATO chief Rasmussen says during his monthly press conference. AFP photo

Syria’s chemical weapon stockpiles are a “great concern” but the solution to the conflict there remains political, not military, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said yesterday.

NATO was monitoring the situation closely, Rasmussen told his monthly press conference in Brussels, but the position remained unchanged and there were no discussions on military.

“The issue of chemical weapons is a matter of great concern but our position remains the same as it has been. We have no discussions on military options,” Rasmussen said. “We do believe the right way forward as regards to Syria is a political solution,” he added.

Asked if there was a ‘red line’ for NATO on the chemical weapons issue, Rasmussen reiterated: “We do not see a military solution in Syria.” Damascus acknowledged for the first time in late July that it possessed chemical weapons and threatened to use them if attacked by outside countries but never against its own people.

Earlier yesterday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Washington was stoking fears over chemical weapons so as to create a scenario similar to that which led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. A US-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003, accusing its president Saddam Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction but none were ever found.

“This issue is an invention of the American administration,” Muallem told Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen.

“These chemical weapons in Syria, if they exist, and I emphasize if, how is it possible that we would use them against our own people? It’s a joke,” he said. “But this definitely does not mean that Syria has a stockpile of chemical weapons or that it intends to use these weapons against its own people ... it is a myth they invented to launch a campaign against Syria like they did in Iraq,” he said in the interview given on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.