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EU backs US plans for military action against Syria

Vilnius (Lithuania), Sep 8 (IANS/EFE): The European Union's foreign ministers have backed America's plans for military action against Syria in retaliation for the alleged chemical weapons attack in Damascus.

"We want to see a clear and strong response," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Saturday.

Ashton made the comments on behalf of her colleagues after a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in the Lithuanian capital.

The bloc agreed that all signs point to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government having been behind the alleged Aug 21 poison gas attack that the US and the Syrian opposition say was carried out by Damascus and killed 1,400 people, Ashton said.

However, the ministers also called for a UN inspectors' report on that incident to be published "as soon as possible".

They expressed satisfaction over French President François Hollande's intention to wait for the findings to be released before taking part in a potential US-led military strike, she added.

The European foreign ministers also urged Washington to wait for the report before launching an attack, said Carl Bildt, Sweden's top diplomat.

Kerry, however, said nothing can be gained by waiting for the report because the UN inspectors' mission was to establish whether chemical weapons were used and not by whom.

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