Kerry: Saudi Arabia OK with international military strike on Syria

MGN Online
Sunday, September 8, 2013 - 9:28am

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking Sunday from Paris, where he met with Arab League ministers, said Saudi Arabia has approved international military intervention in Syria.

"They support the strike," Kerry said after meeting with Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal.

Saudi Arabia is a diplomatic heavyweight in the Arab world, but hasn't publicly called for an international military reprisal after a reported chemical weapons attack last month by the Syrian military against rebels.

With its vast air force and bases, Saudi Arabia could offer a lot of resources to Western militaries.

But it's not expected to participate directly in any attack on Syria, because that would be likely to inflame a widespread Arabian Peninsula antipathy against Western military forces intruding into Arab affairs.

Kerry also said the Arab League ministers unanimously condemned the August 21 incident.

"As we discussed today, all of us agreed -- not one dissenter -- that (Syrian President Bashar) al-Assad's deplorable use of chemical weapons -- which we know killed hundreds of innocent people, including at least 426 children on this occasion, this one occasion -- this crosses an international, global red line," he said.

He said the foreign ministers discussed the "possible and necessary measures" needed to deter al-Assad from using chemical weapons again. Kerry said a "number of countries immediately signed on" to an agreement reached by 12 countries on the side at the recent G-20 summit.

The Syrian government has denied being behind chemical weapons attacks, which it blames on rebels.

Videos that purport to show the results of a chemical weapons attack are part of a White House campaign to inform Congress about the nature of the incident, Kerry said.

"The reason for this is to make sure everybody understands what is at stake," he said. "Those videos make it clear to people that these are real human beings, real children, parents being affected in ways that are unacceptable to anybody, anywhere, by any standard."

He said a vast majority of the members are undecided as to how they will vote on authorizing force against Syria.

Kerry met for three hours with the foreign ministers.

Kerry will also meet with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague in London. Britain's Parliament has ruled out getting militarily involved in Syria, but Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to continue to push for a tough response against the al-Assad regime.

Kerry's efforts with European allies paralleled those of his boss, U.S. President Barack Obama, who tried to rally members of the G-20 in St. Petersburg, Russia, last week.

Obama met with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg summit Friday. But despite both saying the talks were constructive, there was no sign of consensus.

International opinion remains divided on what should be done after the Syrian government allegedly used chemical weapons against its own people last month.

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