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PM discusses Syria with allies

The Danish prime minister has been discussing options for Syria with colleagues.

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Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has been discussing the serious situation in Syria with heads of government in Britain, Turkey and France this afternoon according to Ritzau.

The content of the conversations have remained confidential, but the prime minister said earlier today that it may be time to consider alternatives to the United Nations Security Council, if the council itself was unable to act over Syria.

Although the Social Liberals, who are part of the current tripartite coalition have previously said that intervention in Syria without a UN mandate was ‘extremely dangerous’, the party now seems to have changed its mind.

“I completely agree with the prime minister’s evaluation. We are following the investigations about the poison gas attack very closely,” Party Leader Margrethe Vestager says.

The prime minister’s statements came 24 hours before a meeting of the 28 ambassadors of the NATO Council and Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

“Although this was not the original reason to call in the council, Syria will probably be discussed. Right now there is no military planning in relation to Syria, apart from the initiatives that are already known to protect the Turkish border. But there are political deliberations about whether NATO’s role can change,” a NATO source tells Politiken.dk.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told TV2 that Denmark’s allies are in no doubt about a recent chemical attack.

“What we hear from our closest allies is that they are in no doubt that chemical weapons have been used, and that Assad has used chemical weapons against his own population,” Thorning-Schmidt tells TV2News.

“I have to say that if the UN Security Council is not prepared to react in the current situation, we must consider alternative reaction patterns,” the prime minister told the station, but added that the government will listen closely to the Security Council’s evaluation of the situation.

The sound of intervention drums in connection with Syria has caused global markets to retreat across the board.

“Now we know that the Americans are prepared to get involved in the conflict because they have said all along that they will not accept a country using chemical weapons, and that worries the markets,” Danske Bank Chief Strategist Morten Kongshaug tells Politiken.dk.

European markets are now closed, with the major indices having closed considerably down and US markets likewise in red territory across the board.

The Eurozone’s STOXX50 was down 2.56 per cent, the FTSE100 down 0.79 per cent, the German DAX down 2.28 per cent, the French CAC40 down 2.42 per cent and the Italia All-share down 2.15 per cent.

In the Nordic region, the Danish C20 was down 1.87 per cent, the Stockholm 30 down 1.70 per cent and the Helsinki 25 down 1.77 per cent.

In the United States, the Nasdaq dropped 2.16 per cent, the S&P500 was down 1.56 per cent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 1.14 per cent.

Asian markets were also feeling the pinch, with the Nikkei down 0.69 per cent and the Hang Seng down 0.59 per cent.

With markets showing the jitters, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told the BBC that US forces are ready to launch strikes against Syria if President Obama orders an attack.

"We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfil and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take," Hagel tells the BBC.

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