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Team Obama reaches out to key allies as US mulls Syria strike

August 28, 2013 01:39 IST

President Barack Obama and his cabinet colleagues reached out to key allies of the US before a possible military strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

Obama called Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss concerns about the reported use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against civilians near Damascus on August 21.

In recent days, Obama has spoken with leaders of Australia, Britain and France, and reports say he has sought support of key allies for a possible military strike against Syria.

"The US and Canada strongly oppose the use of chemical weapons, and the President and prime minister pledged to continue to consult closely on potential responses by the international community," the White House said.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, currently in Southeast Asia, spoke on phone with his British counterpart Phillip Hammond and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

"In the conversations, Secretary Hagel conveyed that the United States is committed to working with the international community to respond to the outrageous chemical attacks that have claimed the lives of innocent civilians in Syria," the Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

"He condemned the violence carried out by the Syrian regime and stated that the US military is prepared for any contingency involving Syria. Finally, Secretary Hagel pledged to continue close coordination with the British and French defence forces," he said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also called his counterparts in Britain, Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar; besides speaking to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the NATO Secretary General, the EU High Representative and the Arab League Secretary General twice.

Meanwhile, the UN Chemical Weapons Team to investigate alleged chemical weapons use in the area near Damascus, continued their investigation in a different site, a UN statement said.

The UN Secretary-General urged all sides in the conflict to give safe passage and access to the UN team.

"It is in the interest of all sides to bring factual evidence and clarity to a situation which has brought great suffering to the people of Syria. The UN is there to assist, but it needs the cooperation of all in order to fulfil the mandate given by the Member States," the statement said. 

Lalit K Jha
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