Britain pushes back Syria chemical attack response timetable

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 28, 2013 5:36 PM
Britain pushes back Syria chemical attack response timetable

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain changed its stance on Syria on Wednesday, saying that the U.N. Security Council should see findings from chemical weapons inspectors before it responded militarily and that the British parliament should vote on the matter twice.

Britain had previously declined to say it would wait for a U.N. report before launching military action and had suggested that the British parliament would only get one vote on military action - on Thursday.

But U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sought more time for inspectors to complete their work, Russia said it was premature to table a U.N. resolution and British opposition Labour party leader Ed Miliband made it clear his party wanted clear proof that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons as well as a second parliamentary vote.

"The United Nations Security Council must have the opportunity immediately to consider that briefing (from inspectors) and ... every effort should be made to secure a Security Council Resolution backing military action before any such action is taken," a copy of a British government motion to be debated in parliament on Thursday said.

Prime Minister David Cameron had said earlier on Wednesday that Britain would put a draft resolution to the Security Council condemning the suspected chemical weapons attacks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and authorizing "necessary measures".

Britain's National Security Council also unanimously backed action. [ID:nL6N0GT2RX] An amendment tabled by the Labour Party said it would support military action only if members of the U.N. Security Council saw the inspectors' report first, among other conditions.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas and Andrew Osborn; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)