US Secretary of State John Kerry had on Saturday said that the number of countries ready to take military action was now in the "double digits", after earlier attending a meeting where EU Foreign Ministers united to call for action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. (Agencies)
The EU did not explicitly back military action, but Kerry said he was "encouraged" by the "very powerful statement" made by the bloc. He said, “There were a number of countries, in the double digits, who are prepared to take military action. We have more countries prepared to take military action than we actually could use in the kind of military action being contemplated."
The US accuses the Assad regime of gassing more than 1,400 people to death in an August 21 attack outside Damascus. In his weekly address, US President Barack Obama warned of the dangers of turning "a blind eye" to chemical attacks.
"I call on members of Congress, from both parties, to come together and stand up for the kind of world we want to live in," the President said after returning from a G20 summit in Saint Petersburg that deadlocked over the response to the Syria crisis.
Obama has asked for Congress to authorize strikes on Syria. The legislature reconvenes on Monday and the President is set to address the nation on Tuesday about the US response.
Kerry said Obama had made no decision about whether to wait for the release of a UN investigation into the August attack before taking action. "The President has given up no right of decision in respect to what he will do," Kerry said at a joint press conference with French counterpart Laurent Fabius.
French President Francois Hollande, who has said Paris will wait for the results of the UN probe, said he expected the report to be ready by next weekend. Hollande said he also expected a US Congress vote on ‘Thursday and Friday’.
Outlining his case in Paris in both French and English, Kerry compared the situation to the 1938 Munich Agreement, which ceded control of part of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany. "This is our Munich moment, this is our chance to join together and pursue accountability over appeasement... This is not the time to be silent spectators to slaughter," Kerry said.
Fabius told reporters there was "wide and growing support" to take action on Syria. "Right now, seven of the eight countries in the G8 share our opinion on a strong reaction and 12 countries of the G20 also share this opinion," he said.
Seeking to whip up support from Washington's divided allies in Europe, Kerry held talks with the EU's 28 foreign ministers in Lithuania and with Fabius in France before heading to Britain on Sunday.
US Secretary of State John Kerry had on Saturday said that the number of countries ready to take military action was now in the "double digits", after earlier attending a meeting where EU Foreign Ministers united to call for action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.