Germany: no plans to join Syria military action

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BERLIN (AP) - The German government said Friday that it isn't considering joining military action against Syria and hasn't been asked by others to do so.

Berlin has called for the international community to take a "clear position" following the alleged chemical attack that killed hundreds of civilians in Syria last week, but has left open what exactly that might entail.

Germans are generally wary of military action and Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is treading carefully ahead of Sept. 22 elections. Polls have suggested that a majority of voters oppose German participation in any strike against Syria.

"There has been no request to us for a military commitment, and a German military commitment has never been considered by the government," Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters. Pressed on whether Germany might later participate in military action, he replied: "We have not considered it and we are not considering it."

Seibert pointed to "narrow limits" under German law to military commitments abroad, which need parliamentary approval. He also wouldn't be drawn on whether Berlin would consider it legitimate for other countries to launch military action without a U.N. mandate.

"I don't want to speculate here on what the correct clear international answer to this crime should or can be," Seibert said. "The U.N. Security Council has to consider this."

Merkel engaged in a flurry of telephone diplomacy on Thursday, speaking with the French, Russian and U.S. presidents and stressing the importance of action by the Security Council.

Her challenger in the German elections, Peer Steinbrueck, on Friday spoke out against military intervention and pushed for greater diplomatic efforts to head off a "military spiral that cannot protect people in Syria."

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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