US still seeking "international collaboration" on Syria: Chuck Hagel
Zee Media Bureau
Washington: The United States may have to take action against Syria without the support of UK - one of its closest allies, a day after British House of commons rejected a government proposal calling for military action against the authoritarian regime of President Bashar al Assad.
Reacting to the development, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Friday said, "Washington respects the UK vote."
"Every nation has a responsibility to make their own decisions, and we respect that of any nation," he told journalists in the Philippine capital, Manila.
Despite the British decision, it remains the goal of the Obama administration that any decision be "an international collaboration," he said.
Washington will continue to consult with Britain, but "President Obama`s decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement issued Thursday evening.
The reactions followed news the House of Commons rebuffed Prime Minister David Cameron`s call for a strong response to claims Syria used chemical weapons against its own people, raising questions about what, if any, timeline the United States may follow for a possible strike.
Obama has not spelled out what steps the United States will take in response to last week`s reported attack against civilians in a Damascus suburb, allegedly leaving hundreds dead.
"He believes that there are core interests at stake for the United States and that countries which violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable," Hayden said.
Unilateral action was "a possibility" following the results of the late-night Parliament vote in London, a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
The rejection of the government motion is a major blow UK Prime Minister David Cameron in his efforts for a "strong humanitarian response" to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
Minutes after the shock result, Cameron told lawmakers, "It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the government will act accordingly."
Syrian opposition and the West have accused President Bashar Al-Assad`s government of using chemical weapons last week in a Damascus suburb, a charge denied by the government.
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