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G20: PM warns against Syria action without UN

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cautioned against hasty action on Syria, telling G20 leaders that while India condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria and anywhere else, any action against the country had to be done through the auspices of the UN.

Singh's comments had come on the sidelines of the G20 summit in St Petersburg, Russia at an official dinner, where Russian President Vladimir Putin had invited UN Secretary general Ban Ki-moon to speak on the current status on Syria.

The UN chief had reportedly told world leaders at the G-20 summit that there is “no military solution” to Syria.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the G20: PTI image

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the G20: PTI image

Ban had also reportedly urged the permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States - that they have a “collective responsibility to mankind” to act. However, he reiterated that any decision “should be taken within the framework of the UN Charter, as a matter of principle”, the UN quoted him as saying.

In his response, the Prime Minister had reportedly said that it would be more prudent for the international community to wait for the UN report on Syria before committing to any action. He had said that it was important that whatever action needed to be taken, should be done through the UN security council and should not be done to affect any regime change, according to the NDTV news channel.

US President Barack Obama had then reportedly said that the US was convinced about the use of chemical weapons in the Syria, adding that discussions could continue, but action had to be taken against the country.

The divisions had reportedly been stark at the working dinner, with the Italian prime minister also tweeting that "the G20 has just now finished the dinner session, at which the divisions about Syria were confirmed".

According to this report in the BBC: President Obama was nearly an hour late for Thursday's G20 dinner. His aides earlier said he had been trying to find time during the summit to call US members of Congress.

Mr Obama also cancelled a trip to California on Monday to lobby Congress, as a poll commissioned by the BBC and ABC News suggested more than one-third of Congress members were undecided whether or not to back military action.

The development comes even as the United States declared on Thursday that it has given up trying to work with the UN Security Council on Syria, accusing Russia of holding the council hostage and allowing Moscow's allies in Syria to deploy poison gas against innocent children, Reuters reported.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power's remarks left no doubt that Washington would not seek UN approval for a military strike on Syria in response to a 21 August chemical attack near Damascus. She said a draft resolution Britain submitted to the five permanent council members last week calling for a response to that attack was effectively dead.

The US and France are the only nations at the G20 summit to commit to using force in Syria. China and Russia insist any action without the UN would be illegal.

With inputs from Reuters

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