August 26, 2013 / 6:38 AM / 6 years ago

France says would be hard to bypass U.N. in action against Syria

French President Francois Hollande (R) and with Ahmad Jarba (L), head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, speak to journalists at the Elysee Palace in Paris, July 24, 2013. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s foreign minister said on Monday no decision had been made yet on whether to take military action against Syria, but doing so outside the auspices of the U.N. Security Council would be problematic.

“It is a problem that will be difficult,” Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio.

“International law is defined by the United Nations, but at same time there are countries (on the council) that are blocking (military action)- China and Russia have blocked and would probably block again so it would be a problem...

“In certain circumstances we can bypass it, but international law does exist,” he said without elaborating.

All options on how to respond to the poison gas attack in the Damascus suburbs were still open. “The only one that is not on the table is to not do anything,” he added.

In an interview published by a Russian newspaper on Monday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dismissed claims his forces used chemical weapons and warned Washington that any U.S. military intervention would fail.

Fabius said there was no doubt that Assad’s forces were behind the attack, reiterating comments made by the French government on Sunday.

“There has been a chemical attack, it’s the responsibility of Assad’s regime and so there must be a reaction.”

United Nations inspectors are due to visit the site of the suspected chemical weapons attack on Monday, but Fabius said it was too late and that in any case they did not have the remit to say who was responsible.

Reporting By John Irish; Editing by John Stonestreet

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