Kevin Rudd has likened the spiralling humanitarian tragedy in Syria to the notorious episodes of genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda and warned history will judge today’s leaders harshly if they do not act.
In his strongest remarks yet indicating possible support for an international intervention, Mr Rudd branded the civil war in the Middle Eastern country a ”crisis of historic proportions”.
Mr Rudd also revealed he had spoken to US President Barack Obama on Tuesday morning about the crisis and said Washington was ”considering options” to respond to the crisis.
The remarks came during a major speech at Sydney’s Lowy Institute in which Mr Rudd sought to pitch the Labor government as one that had made the right calls on the big decisions of the past six years.
They also came as world leaders stepped up their condemnation and calls for action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that United Nations Security Council unanimity was not needed for an armed response to Assad forces’ suspected gas attack on civilians last week.
And US Secretary of State John Kerry said the regime’s use of chemical weapons was now ”undeniable”.
Mr Rudd, in his most powerful set of remarks to date on the unfolding disaster, said it was not just any crisis.
”This is of historic proportions and we are living through it,” he said. ”History will judge us all in the decisions we make today, just as it judged us harshly and rightly so on Srebrenica and just as it judged us also on Rwanda.”
He did not outline, however, any Australian plans for a response. Previously, Mr Rudd has said that the international community needed to wait for confirmation of a suspected chemical weapons attack that anti-government rebels claim killed hundreds of civilians including many chidren.
On Tuesday, he said that the attack, if proven, would ”not be without consequence”.
”President Obama is considering options.”
He said Australia’s priority remained working with the international community to ensure the Assad regime ensured full access to UN weapons inspectors.
Syria will be top of the agenda when Australia takes over the presidency of the United Nations Security Council on Sunday.Source: Sydney Morning Herald – Kevin Rudd discussed Syria crisis with Barack Obama
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- PM cites Iraq, urges calm on Syria (theage.com.au)
- Kevin Rudd halts election campaigning for briefing on Syria crisis (theguardian.com)
- Rudd Says Obama Mulling ‘Full Range’ of Options on Syria (thejakartaglobe.com)
- Key quiet on Kiwi troops in Syria (stuff.co.nz)
- Rudd condemns sniper attack on UN in Syria (news.theage.com.au)
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