Stoltenberg reveals hectic Syria diplomacy
NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg actively participated in the difficult discussions before the attack on Syria. He did however not speak directly with US President Donald Trump.
NTB meets with the Secretary-General at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels. He headed an extraordinary meeting between the Allies on Saturday afternoon to discuss the US-British-French bombing campaign against the Syrian regime.
After the meeting, the Allies declared their total support of the attacks.
Stoltenberg tells about extensive consultations between the Allies in advance of the action.
– I have had close contact with not in the least the United States, the UK and France, he says.
Talked with Mattis
Stoltenberg spoke with US defense minister Jim Mattis the night before the attack.
The NATO boss did not discuss the matter directly with US President Donald Trump.
– My contact has primarily been with the Secretary of Defense, Mattis, and the US Ambassador to NATO here in Brussels. I have also talked to representatives from several other NATO countries regarding this, says Stoltenberg.
According to him, consultations have been ongoing ever since the alleged attack involving chemical weapons in Syria took place on April 7th.
The Allies communicate in a variety of different ways. Secure lines have been established between the capitals to ensure that they can communicate with each other without fear of interception.
Additionally the NATO countries have their own ambassadors in place in Brussels.
– That’s why we have permanent representatives from the different countries here, to facilitate easy communication, explains Stoltenberg.
The political leaders also send text messages to each other; naturally not about everything.
– You can communicate a bit using text messages, but you can obviously not communicate confidential information.
Syria was also an important issue during the visits Stoltenberg recently has made to Canada, the United States and Germany. He furthermore expects the case to be discussed when he visits Turkey on Sunday and Monday.
The United States, Britain and France fired 110 missiles against three targets in Syria. The attacks were exclusively intended to hit facilities for the production and storage of chemical weapons.
Stoltenberg emphasizes that the operation was targeted and limited.
– It was not a general attack on the Syrian regime, but an attack on three specific facilities that are important to the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program. The fact that it was so limited shows that it was a targeted action against their chemical weapons and not an action against the regime as such, Stoltenberg tells NTB.
The NATO chief describes the civil war in Syria as a highly complex conflict where many groups fight each other and there is no easy way out.
According to him, the Allies in NATO have no desire to be drawn in to the conflict.
He defends the Allies’ use of force on Syrian soil, both in the fight against the extremist group ISIS and to weaken the regime’s ability to use chemical weapons.
– There is no military solution to the conflict in Syria. We need a political, peaceful, negotiated solution. But we will not get closer to such a solution by accepting further use of illegal chemical weapons. On the contrary, it will make it even more difficult to reach a political solution, says Stoltenberg.
– We can not sit on our thumbs and watch chemical weapons being used in Syria, as we then we will gradually normalize and accept the use, he warns.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today