The possible U.S. military intervention in Syria was discussed in detail at a dinner for G20 leaders late on Thursday evening and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh categorically said, “We need to be certain about the facts, going by past experience.”
Without saying it in as many words, Dr. Singh was pointing to Iraq’s experience where facts were not ascertained before the United States military went looking for weapons of mass destruction during Saddam Hussain’s regime.
Dr. Singh also emphasised that any action against Syria has to be under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council. He reiterated India’s position that armed action must not be specifically aimed at bringing about a regime change.
Briefing media, Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who was also at the dinner, said “virtually everybody in the room appreciated and applauded the views of the U.N. Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon who promised to bring within the next few days scientific evidence of whether chemical weapons were used”.
Mr. Ban was asked to speak by the Russian President and G-20 host, Vladmir Putin. Mr. Ban explained how the U.N. was in the process of examining the body tissues of those killed in the alleged chemical attacks and also of those who had survived.
Sources said President Barack Obama, predictably, argued that the United States was convinced about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. However, the overwhelming consensus was that the U.S. must not do anything outside the framework of the UNSC and this was evident from the manner in which Mr. Ban was applauded after his presentation to the leaders.