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Many at U.N. welcome Obama's move on Syria

UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS, New York President Barack Obama'spause in what appeared to be a military countdown towards a strike against Syria for alleged chemical weapons use was well-received by many U.N. diplomats, some of whom said they believe that there will be more chance for diplomatic efforts, and for world leaders to be able to take the U.N. weapons inspectors' report into account.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon Dept. of Defense

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon leaves for the G20 summit in Russia on Tuesday and will be there with many world leaders who are directly involved in the Syria crisis, including President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Reacting to the announcement by President Obama that he will refer the question of striking Syria to Congress, U.N. Secretary-General Spokesman Martin Nesirky on Sunday said that the secretary-general "regards it as one aspect of an effort to achieve a broad-based international consensus on measures in response to any use of chemical weapons."

Ban spoke by phone with Dr. Ake Sellstrom, head of the United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, who had returned from Damascus and traveled to The Hague to begin preparations for classifying the samples taken by weapons inspectors and to transfer the samples to labs on Monday, in order to produce a report.

Sellstrom told the secretary-general that the process will be done strictly adhering to the highest established standards of verification recognized by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, in order to investigate the attack in the Ghouta area of Damascus, Syria, on August 21.

The secretary-general asked the weapons inspection chief to expedite the report, and that may allow the U.S. Congress to evaluate the U.N. evidence as it debates a possible U.S. military strike.

As a way to move the military action to peace negotiations, the secretary-general's spokesperson on Sunday said he "reiterates the primary role of the Security Council in maintaining and restoring international peace and security, including in any case where the use of chemical weapons is established. As such, he believes the Council should stand firm and united in agreeing on measures in response to any use of chemical weapons."

Sending a message to those who perpetrated the attack, the U.N. spokesperson said: "The use of chemical weapons will not be accepted under any circumstances. There should be no impunity and any perpetrators of such a horrific crime against humanity must be held accountable."