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Norway will not back Syria strikes without UN

Richard Orange · 29 Aug 2013, 08:58

Published: 29 Aug 2013 08:58 GMT+02:00

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said he fully backed the call from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to wait until UN inspectors had finished their investigation of a suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians by Syria's regime. 
 
"Ban said that we have to give diplomacy and UN inspectors a chance. Facts must be on the table," he said on Wednesday afternoon. "I am very happy that Ban wants to give diplomacy a chance." 
 
The prime minister's statements came at the same time as the concerns expressed by Norwegian foreign minister Espen Barth Eide that international military intervention could exacerbate the situation. 
 
"We need to consider whether this will make the situation better or worse," he said. "After coming home from a visit to the region yesterday, I am deeply concerned about the possible repercussions if the international community gets involved."  
 
Britain and France have both floated the idea of punitive strikes against Syria aimed both at reducing the regime's capacity to use chemical weapons, and also at forcing the country's president, Bashar al-Assad, to the negotiating table. 
 
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday backed down on  plans to hold a parliamentary vote on Thursday, which would have sanctioned strikes taking place as early as this weekend.  He said he would now wait for the report from UN weapons inspectors, expected early next week. 
 
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Eide said that so far neither the US, Britain or France had requested the involvement of Norwegian forces in any attack. 
 
"There have been no indications that Norwegian forces are wanted in connection with an operation," Eide said.  
 

Richard Orange (richard.orange@thelocal.com)

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