CANBERRA - Australia, incoming chair of the U.N. Security Council, has endorsed possible retaliation against Syria over the use of chemical weapons, even if the council fails to agree on action.
Australia, a close ally of the United States, is due to take over the rotating leadership of the council on Sunday, a role that requires it to assist council members to reach agreement.
But Foreign Minister Bob Carr said that if it was proved the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons, the world had a mandate to respond, even if the United Nations failed to agree on such action.
"We're moving to a stage where America and like-minded countries are contemplating what sort of response," Carr told reporters on Wednesday.
"Our preference, everyone's preference, would be for action, a response, under United Nations auspices. But if that's not possible, the sheer horror of a government using chemical weapons against its people, using chemical weapons in any circumstances, mandates a response."
The United States and its allies are gearing up for a probable military strike against Syria that could come within days and would be the most aggressive action by Western powers in Syria's two-and-a-half-year civil war.