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Syrian issue to prevail on informal meetings of EU ministers and secretaries of state

September 02, 2013, 16:48 UTC+3

The meetings will take place in Vilnius September 6-7

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BRUSSELS, September 2 (Itar-Tass) - The foreign and defense ministers of the EU states will discuss a possible US military operation against Syria at their informal meetings, which will be held in Vilnius on September 6-7, the European Commission confirmed on Monday.

On such meetings, held annually in September, there is no formal agenda, and their participants may raise any topical issue. “We intend to exchange views on the issue of political settlement in Syria on the forthcoming meetings in Vilnius,” Michael Mann, Chief spokesperson to High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy Catherine Ashton, said.

According to Mann, Catherine Ashton is constantly in touch with partners on Syria. He added that she would undoubtedly hold talks on this topic in Vilnius.

Mann was extremely cautious, avoiding such terms as ‘military operation’ or ‘air strikes’. He once again recalled that the EU urged for an independent investigation of chemical weapons use cases in Syria and noted that a lasting solution of the crisis might be reached only within the political field.

Earlier a diplomatic source in Brussels told Itar-Tass that on both meetings would be discussed the ‘hypothetical US operation against Syria’ and its possible catastrophic aftermath.

The EU, not being a military organization, by definition doesn’t intend to take any part in such actions in Syria in case the US chooses to start the fourth military campaign in the Muslim world after wars Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. However, almost all EU countries are at the same time NATO members and US military allies, and have the opportunity to use any platforms to discuss their actions.

The EU is engaged in the humanitarian aspect of the crisis, namely in providing aid to refugees. Nevertheless, the European Commission representative couldn’t answer to a journalist’s question on how the refugee flow from Syria had increased after US started its media campaign preparing the military operation. This information campaign is based on broadcasting statements about the imminence of a strike on Syria in media, including Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia TV stations, despite the lack of practical decision on starting military action against Damascus.

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