President Sauli Niinistö has called a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy to discuss the situation in Syria.

 

 

The committee includes the president – who is mandated with leading the nation’s foreign policy – as well as key government ministers.

 

He spoke briefly to reporters afterwards, saying it is “clear that Assad is the main guilty party in Syria”.

 

“It is essential that the international community acts now,” he said. “The UN has already discussed the issue before the US strikes, but was unable to reach unanimity. It may be difficult to reach any quick decisions within the UN sphere.”

 

Niinistö added that he hopes there will be progress on calming the situation in Syria after US Secretary of State’s Rex Tillerson visit to Moscow, which is scheduled for next Tuesday.

 

“That meeting now takes on greater gravity,” Niinistö noted.

 

Speaking Yle TV1’s breakfast show on Friday morning, Foreign Minister Timo Soini said the US strike was a “highly significant change in that now the big powers are heading in different directions.”

 

He noted that “either action or inaction after the use of chemical weapons is a message.”

 

Soini declined to speculate on the possible repercussions of the strike, but said that a confrontation between the US and Russia over Syria would be undesirable.

 

“It is of course not good in any way if major powers are quite strongly in opposition to each other. Now we need responsibility, sense and a focus on solutions. We must remember that the use of chemical weapons is unequivocally wrong and unacceptable,” he said.

 

“We must always keep in mind that those who suffer the most are civilians,” Soini added. “I hope that the major powers can negotiate on this between them and finally give the UN’s Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, a real opportunity to move forward and achieve peace.”

 

 

 

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