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Can’t act alone,need coalition: France

France said on Sunday it could not act alone against Syria after the US stepped back from the brink

Written by Reuters | Paris/washington | Published: September 2, 2013 2:34 am

France said on Sunday it could not act alone against Syria after the US stepped back from the brink,making Paris the last remaining top ally in the Western coalition to hesitate over punishing President Bashar al-Assad.

After President Barack Obama delayed an imminent strike by deciding to consult Congress and the British parliament vetoed any involvement,French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is to discuss with senior lawmakers on Monday how to respond to allegations chemical weapons attacks were launched by Assad.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said France would await the US Congress’s decision,which is unlikely for more than a week at least. “France cannot go it alone,” Valls told Europe 1 radio. “We need a coalition.”

Obama made the surprise announcement on Saturday that he would seek approval from Congress for military intervention in a gamble that will test his ability to project American strength abroad and deploy his own power at home.

Before Obama put on the brakes,the path had been cleared for a US assault. Navy ships were in place and awaiting orders to launch missiles,and UN inspectors had left Syria after gathering evidence of a chemical weapons attack that US officials say killed 1,429 people.

Valls said Obama’s announcement had created “a new situation” which meant France would have to wait “for the end of this new phase”.

French President Francois Hollande reaffirmed to Obama on Saturday his will to punish Syria but has come under increasing pressure to put the intervention to parliament. A BVA poll on Saturday showed most French people do not approve of military action against Syria. Valls is scheduled to meet the heads of the two houses of the French Parliament and the conservative opposition on Monday before a parliamentary debate on Wednesday.

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