Most G20 leaders agree Assad was behind chemical attack, Obama says


President Barack Obama said on Friday that most leaders of the G20 countries agree that Syrian President Bashar Assad is responsible for using poison gas against civilians as the U.S. leader tried to rally support at home and abroad for a military strike.

Obama said he planned to speak to the American public about Syria on Tuesday as Congress considers his request for limited military action in Syria.

Speaking to reporters at an international diplomatic summit, Obama said the leaders of the world's largest economies agreed that chemical weapons were used in Syria and that the international ban chemical weapons needs to be maintained.

However, he said there was disagreement about whether force could be used in Syria without going through the United Nations. The United States has been unable to win U.N. Security Council approval for military action against Syriabecause of the opposition of veto-wielding Russia.

“The majority of the room is comfortable with our conclusion that Assad, the Assad government, was responsible for their use,” he said at a news conference, adding that this is disputed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A number of countries believed that any military force needed to be decided at U.N. Security Council, a view he said he does not share.

“Given Security Council paralysis on this issue, if we are serious about upholding a ban on chemical weapons use then an international response is required, and that will not come through Security Council action,” he said.

Obama has been trying to rally support internationally and domestically for a limited military response to the chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians Aug. 21. (Reporting By Steve Holland, Roberta Rampton and Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

French consul injured after Israeli raid on Gaza


France’s consul to the Gaza Strip, his wife and 13-year-old daughter were injured during an Israeli air strike on Sunday night, French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

Valero told reporters the three were hit by shrapnel at their residence in Gaza, which is located 200 meters from the site of an Israeli missile attack, he added.

“France condemns the consequences of the raid,” he said. “While we are all for Israeli security, France recalls the utmost necessity to avoid civilian harm,” Valero said, without specifying the nature of their injuries.

The raid, which killed one policeman and wounded four others after Palestinian militants from the coastal territory fired a rocket into southern Israel, is likely to strain already difficult relations between Paris and Jerusalem.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has written to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reaffirm friendship despite what he refers to as their “differing views on the Middle East”.

Sarkozy’s comments, in a condolence message to Netanyahu for the death of his father-in-law, seemed to make an effort to try to clear the air a week after a reported gaffe this month at the G20 summit in Cannes, when he was overheard telling U.S. President Barack Obama he thought Netanyahu was “a liar”.

Reporting By Vicky Buffery; writing by John Irish