PM on Syria strikes: ‘Time to return to the table‘

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemns the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and accepts why action was necessary today.

Joint US, British and French military forces hit the capital, Damascus, targeting alleged chemical weapons sites.

Ms Ardern made comments about Syria from the Gold Coast where she is attending the Commonwealth Games.

New Zealand supports a diplomatic approach and the use of a multilateral environment to try to resolve these issues but in this case that wasn‘t possible because of Russia‘s veto powers at the Security Council which prevented that course of action, Ms Ardern said.

Ms Ardern said Russia‘s use of the veto was “something we absolutely condemn and will continue to condemn”.

She said the veto prevents countries from being able to take a unified position.

“Under the circumstances though it is understandable and we accept why the US and others have taken the military action that they have, our view is though now is the time to return to the table, to the UN to resolve these issues.”

Ms Ardern said she was advised of the action a couple of hours before it took place and she now hoped that they would now return to the negotiating table.

“Ultimately no one wants to be in this situation, the use of chemical weapons in this case is absolutely abhorrent, we have strongly condemned it.

“Our hope would have been that we could have used the UN Security Council to find resolution, Russia stopped that bid from being possible, so under those circumstances we understand why this action has taken place, we hope though that we can return back to the UN to try and prevent further harm for civilians.”

The US has not asked New Zealand for any further support, Ms Ardern said.

She said she had no doubt she would be discussing it further with leaders in France, Germany and the UK.

Ms Ardern said it‘s important not to give up on the UN as being the way in which the international community can respond to this and the best way to stop seeing civilians hurt would be to use collective action.