28 Aug 2013

PM discussing Syria with US, Australia

8:57 pm on 28 August 2013

Prime Minister John Key has spoken to his Australian counterpart, Kevin Rudd, about the mounting crisis in Syria.

International support is growing for military intervention, in response to last week's deadly chemical attack believed to have been carried out by the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

John Key.

John Key. Photo: RNZ

Mr Key says New Zealand's preference is that the United Nations Security Council decides on an urgent response to the crisis.

But he says other options may have to be considered, if countries such as China and Russia continue to exercise their veto against foreign intervention in the internal conflict.

Mr Key says Australia is highly engaged in ongoing discussions because of its status as a non permanent member of the Security Council.

Australia is also due to take over the rotating leadership of the council on Sunday, which requires it to assist council members to reach agreement.

Mr Key and Mr Rudd discussed the importance of strong reaction from the international community on Wednesday afternoon.

New Zealand will also be briefed by the United States through its embassy on Wednesday night, or on Thursday.

Mr Key says he'll more than likely speak to other leaders over the next few days, including United Nations general secretary Ban Ki-moon and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Key was asked whether New Zealand would consider options other than a UN-mandated response, if Russia continued to exercise its veto on the Security Council.

"Well it may do but ... they're the issues that other countries and leaders will have to think about... at the end of the day this is a situation where the actions are totally abhorrent ... lots of people are losing their lives and that includes very great many children."

Patience wearing thin - McCully

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says it is clear international patience with the Security Council and its inaction over Syria is wearing thin.

Mr McCully says New Zealand still wants the Security Council to be the place where any action is resolved.

He's once again urging the council to show leadership and take action against the reported use of chemical weapons.

The Labour Party says the Syrian Government should not be allowed to get away with the use of chemical weapons against its own people.

Foreign affairs spokesperson Phil Goff says action should be taken through the Security Council, and New Zealand should speak out against countries blocking that.

"What we need is multi-lateral action through the UN. And if one country, and in this case it's likely to be Russia, stands in the way of that then New Zealand should be outspoken. Russia has no right to stop collective action against a regime that slaughters its own people brutally with chemical weapons because it wants to protect arms sales to Syria."

Support increasing globally

International support is growing for military intervention in response to the attack, which left hundreds of children, women and men dead.

American Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel says US armed forces are ready for military action, if the President gives the order.

Both British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande say the world should not stand idly by.

Mr Cameron, says military action against Syria would be aimed specifically at deterring the use of chemical weapons.

The Arab League says it holds the Syrian government fully responsible for the attack. Turkey has called for decisive action.