April 12, 2018 / 10:34 AM / 3 months ago

Germany expects to be consulted before any attack on Syria: foreign minister

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Germany expects to be consulted before any Western allies conduct an attack on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces as the allies must be united on the matter, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday.

British ministers planned to gather on Thursday to discuss whether to join the United States and France in a possible military attack on Syria that threatens to bring Western and Russian forces into direct confrontation.

Prime Minister Theresa May has cast the suspected use of poison gas in the formerly rebel-held town of Douma east of Damascus as a barbaric attack by Syrian government forces on civilians.

“It’s important at the same time to maintain pressure on Russia,” Maas told reporters in Dublin after meeting Ireland’s foreign minister. “If we want to do that, we the Western partners cannot diverge in our approaches.”

A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she had spoken with French President Emmanuel Macron about the suspected gas attack and expressed her concern that the international community’s ability to ban chemical weapons was eroding.

U.S. President Donald Trump warned Russia on Wednesday that missiles “will be coming” in response to the April 7 gas attack, alleged to have killed dozens of people, and lambasted Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“We have to harmonize our actions, and if individual countries take a particular action I would expect them to consult the German government,” Maas said.

“It is illusionary to think that you could heighten the pressure on someone without ensuring that the Western community speaks with one voice. I think that is extremely important.”

Reporting by Graham Fahy; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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