EU foreign ministers seek to paper over divisions on Syria strikes at Luxembourg meet

EU foreign ministers will try to put on a united front at talks in Luxembourg on Monday (April 16) despite divisions over the strikes on Syria and how to handle the growing diplomatic crisis with Moscow.

Germany’s powerful Chancellor Angela Merkel may have declared the strikes by the US, Britain and France “necessary and appropriate”, but other EU members are resisting any step that could lead to further escalation.

US, French and British missiles destroyed suspected chemical weapons development and storage sites in Syria on Saturday in response to the alleged chemical attack in Douma, blamed on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

While the EU’s 28 members agree the incident was unacceptable and cannot go unpunished, a statement issued by EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini on Saturday stopped short of endorsing the strikes, saying only that those responsible “will be held accountable for this violation of international law”.

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg unequivocally backed the strikes, saying they would reduce Mr Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons.

But EU states are divided: at one end of the scale are France and Britain, at the other are neutral countries, and in between are various Nato members with differing views on the strikes.

“The statement of the 28 is the maximum that could be said,” a European source said.

Some European governments are holding back because they are concerned about the reaction from Russia, which among other things remains a key supplier of gas to the EU.

Source: National News Agency