France says Western action on Syria 'difficult'

PARIS - Western plans for retaliatory action against Syria for an alleged chemical weapons attack are "difficult to develop", the French government spokeswoman said Thursday.

"The international community must find a riposte that is adapted to the situation," Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said on France 2 television.

She said it was "necessary to obtain the adhesion of several allies and partners at the heart of the UN Security Council, which we are trying to do" but added that "states like Russia and China pose a certain number of problems."

The aim of military action "will not simply be to punish the Syrian regime and prevent it from carrying out a new attack of this type ... but also to seek a way out of this crisis."

"It's extremely important for the international community if it intervenes to do so in a manner that the country can recover."

Her comments came after US President Barack Obama, who had warned that the regime of Syria's Bashar al-Assad would be crossing a "red line" if it used chemical weapons, said he had not taken a decision on retaliatory strikes yet.

Britain has been pushing for permanent members of the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution which would have authorised measures to protect civilians in Syria.

But Russia refused to agree to the resolution and a diplomatic stalemate continues.

Syria denies using chemical weapons and has blamed the opposition for the August 21 attack on a Damascus suburb.