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Haley Defends 'Moderate'Response -- WSJ

8 Apr 2017 6:32 am
By Farnaz Fassihi 

UNITED NATIONS -- U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Friday that the U.S. military strike on a Syrian air base was a necessary and "measured response" and warned that the U.S. was prepared to do more, if necessary.

Ms. Haley's comments were delivered at a Security Council debate on the U.S.'s decision to target Syria's regime for the first time in the six-year conflict.

"It's time for all civilized nations to stop the horrors in Syria and demand a political solution," she said.

Ms. Haley's warnings in recent days served as the earliest indications of the Trump administration's direction on Syria. On Wednesday, she was the first administration official to warn that the U.S. was willing to take action alone on Syria if the United Nations failed to act collectively.

On Friday she reiterated that position, telling the 15-member Council that "the U.S. would no longer wait," and "will not stand by when chemical weapons are used." U.S. military officials so far haven't pointed to the likelihood of additional action against the Syrian regime.

The division and deadlock usually on display at the Security Council appeared to have deepened in the aftermath of the U.S. missile strike. The prospect of reaching a political solution through a U.N.-led process appeared further from reach as supporters and opponents of Syria ripped into each other with accusations and insults.

The missile strike was endorsed by U.S. allies France and the U.K. as appropriate and a signal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he faced consequences for using chemical weapons on civilians.

Syria's allies, Russia and Bolivia, said the U.S. strike was an act of aggression and a violation to the Council's charters banning countries from taking unilateral military action against sovereign states.

Russia's deputy ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, said the U.S. attack was a "flagrant violation of international law and an act of aggression." He said the U.S.'s past military involvement in Iraq and Libya had sown unrest in the region. "Remember what you have produced in the Middle East," he told the U.S.

China and Japan took a middle-of-the-road approach. Neither openly condemned the U.S. strike, but both warned against escalating military tensions and urged all parties to focus on a political transition.

In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he fully supported the U.S. strike and described it as a proper response to Syria's use of chemical weapons.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a statement called for accountability in the use of chemical weapons. "Mindful of the risk of escalation, I appeal for restraint to avoid any acts that could deepen the suffering of the Syrian people," he added.

The Security Council had put on hold further discussion and a vote on a U.S.-led resolution, backed by France and the U.K., condemning the chemical attacks and calling for a U.N. investigation. Diplomats said negotiations that went late into the night on Thursday failed to reach a consensus.

Three competing resolutions were circulated among Council members on Thursday. The strongly worded U.S.-led version also called for Syria to share details and information on its flights and pilots' names. A resolution from Russia didn't condemn the chemical attack and called for on-the-ground investigations by the U.N. A third resolution, prepared by the 10 nonpermanent members of the Council, was a middle version of the U.S. and Russian resolutions.

Russia told the Council on Friday that the U.S. resolution "was not even worth looking at." Ms.Haley said that compromising on Russia's watered-down version would only strengthen Mr. Assad.

Write to Farnaz Fassihi at farnaz.fassihi@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 08, 2017 02:32 ET (06:32 GMT)

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