No military commitment following Obama meeting

Following Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s meeting with the American president in Stockholm, Nordic leaders call for “strong international action” in Syria

Following her dinner with American president Barack Obama and Nordic leaders, PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne) stressed that Denmark's participation in a military action in Syria remains "hypothetical".


"We support it politically, morally and diplomatically," Thorning-Schmidt told the Danish press corps in regard to a possible action in Syria. "There is nobody who has requested that we participate militarily, so therefore I'm not going to take a position on a hypothetical question."


Saying that "the Americans need their closet allies", the PM reported that she let President Obama know where Denmark stood in relation to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. 


READ MORE: Syria and Snowden on the Stockholm agenda


Joint statement strongly condemns chemical weapon use
Thorning-Schmidt and Obama joined with the heads of state of Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Finland to release a joint statement following their meeting last night. 


"With regard to the situation in Syria, we strongly condemn any and all use of chemical weapons, and we are convinced a strong international reaction is required," the statement read. "Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable."


The joint statement, which can be read here, also included commitments on climate change, global development and human rights. But those issues were clearly overshadowed as Obama visited Sweden on the first ever bilateral meeting in that country with a sitting US president. 


READ MORE: Denmark sending 100 million kroner in aid to Syria


Obama: Not my red line
Instead, Syria dominated much of Obama's press conference with Sweden's prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt. There, Obama made the case that the much-discussed 'red line' that appears to have been crossed by the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons was not a parameter that the American president had made himself. 


"I didn't set a red line, the world set a red line," Obama said at the press conference. "My credibility's not on the line. The international community's credibility is on the line."


Following the day's events in Stockholm, Thorning-Schmidt acknowledged that she stood alone among Nordic leaders in not ruling out a military action. 


"It is well known that there are different opinions and conclusions on that question amongst the Nordic lands," she said according to Ritzau. "All six countries [represented at last night's meeting] believe that the UN Security Council should react in this situation. That would clearly be the best if it were possible."


READ MORE: Danish Syrians say Assad not behind chemical attack


Thorning-Schmidt: Differences amongst the Nordics
The Security Council is unlikely to approve military action given Russia's veto power and long-standing support of the Assad regime. Yesterday however, Russian president Vladimir Putin told the AP that Russia "doesn't exclude" supporting UN approval of a military strike if it can be definitively proven that the Syrian government used chemical weapons. But even without a clear UN mandate, Thorning-Schmidt said that other options must be on the table.


"The Americans have said it very clearly," she said. "That if the UN process comes up short, they will consider a targeted military action to tell Assad that we are vehemently opposed to the use of chemical weapons, and to keep it from happening again. And we have backed up an action that goes around the UN, but not all the Nordic lands support it."


Obama and Putin will meet later today at the G20 Summit in St Petersburg.

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