BRUSSELS--There is no reason for immediate concern about chemical weapons being taken out of Syria, the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Monday.
In a statement earlier Monday, EU foreign ministers had said they were "seriously concerned about the potential use of chemical weapons in Syria."
Asked about the EU's concerns, Mrs. Ashton said that while information is limited, there is "no reason to have an immediate concern about them being taken out or removed" from Syria.
On Monday, a Syrian foreign ministry spokesman said President Bashar al-Assad's regime would never use its chemical weapons stocks as part of the internal conflict in Syria but that it could use them against "external aggression."
Asked about that comment on his way out of Monday's EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said any threat to use weapons of mass destruction was "unacceptable."
In her press conference at the end of the foreign ministers meeting, Mrs. Ashton was also asked whether the EU could support a proposal that would give Mr. Assad safe passage outside of Syria if he agreed to step down.
Mrs. Ashton did not respond directly but said "there is much discussion going on about how best to ensure that justice is being done."
She noted that the Arab League is looking at options and said the EU would follow that debate and discussions at the United Nations and "react accordingly."
Write to Laurence Norman at Laurence.email@example.com
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