Following Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s meeting with the American president in Stockholm, Nordic leaders call for „strong international action” in Syria
Following her dinner with American president Barack Obama and Nordic leaders, PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne) stressed that Denmark’s participation in a military action in Syria remains „hypothetical”. „We support it politically, morally and diplomatically,” Thorning-Schmidt told the Danish press corps in regard to a possible action in Syria. „There is nobody who has requested that we participate militarily, so therefore I’m not going to take a position on a hypothetical question.”
Joint statement strongly condemns chemical weapon use
Thorning-Schmidt and Obama joined with the heads of state of Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Finland to release a joint statement following their meeting last night. „With regard to the situation in Syria, we strongly condemn any and all use of chemical weapons, and we are convinced a strong international reaction is required,” the statement read. „Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable.” The joint statement, which can be read here, also included commitments on climate change, global development and human rights. But those issues were clearly overshadowed as Obama visited Sweden on the first ever bilateral meeting in that country with a sitting US president.
Instead, Syria dominated much of Obama’s press conference with Sweden’s prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt. There, Obama made the case that the much-discussed ‘red line’ that appears to have been crossed by the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons was not a parameter that the American president had made himself.
The Security Council is unlikely to approve military action given Russia’s veto power and long-standing support of the Assad regime. Yesterday however, Russian president Vladimir Putin told the AP that Russia „doesn’t exclude” supporting UN approval of a military strike if it can be definitively proven that the Syrian government used chemical weapons. But even without a clear UN mandate, Thorning-Schmidt said that other options must be on the table.