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Several Nations Showing Support for Military Action in Syria
UPDATE: The United Nations is reporting that a vehicle used by Syria chemical weapons experts shot at by snipers; team replacing vehicle.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the Obama administration is still analyzing intelligence on Syria's purported use of chemical weapons and "will get the facts" before acting.
Hagel told reporters after meeting Monday with his Indonesian counterpart that "if there is any action taken" by the U.S. it will be in concert with international partners.
He says the U.S. is "looking at all options."
Meanwhile, Germany, Turkey and France officials have supported military intervention in one form or another.
The German government is suggesting for the first time that it would support an international military response against Syria if it is confirmed that President Bashar Assad's troops attacked opponents with chemical weapons.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday that if U.N. inspectors confirm the use of chemical weapons, "it must be punished."
Seibert says the government has "very clear evidence that this was a chemical weapons attack." He says he won't speculate on what kind of response might be needed but would not rule out the use of force.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement that if the attack is confirmed "Germany would be among those who consider consequences to be appropriate."
Merkel on Saturday urged a political solution to the Syrian conflict.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says Turkey would take part in an international coalition to move against Assad's government if the U.N. failed to come up with sanctions to punish Syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons.
In comments published Monday in Milliyet newspaper, Davutoglu said Turkey's priority is to act according to U.N. decisions, but the country would join a coalition if there is no U.N. mandate.
Davutoglu said "36 or 37" countries were already discussing options.
As one of the Assad government's strongest critics, Turkey is backing the Syrian opposition and rebels.
Syria has denied that it used chemical weapons in an attack on rebel positions in a Damascus suburb last week that killed hundreds of people.
The French foreign minister says there will be a "proportionate response" to the alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb that he blamed on Syria's government.
"It will be negotiated in coming days," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio on Monday. Fabius acknowledged that the lack of a U.N. blessing was problematic. "All the options are open. The only option that I can't imagine would be to do nothing."
Syria's government agreed to allow U.N. experts already in the country to begin an investigation Monday into the suspected chemical attack on rebel-held areas in the capital's eastern suburbs. Anti-government activists and Doctors Without Borders say that more than 300 people were killed in an artillery barrage by regime forces Wednesday that included the use of toxic gas.
UN Syria Team Departs Hotel as Assad Denies Attack
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- A U.N. team that is supposed to investigate an alleged chemical attack near the Syrian capital Damascus that reportedly killed hundreds last week has left their hotel.
An Associated Press photographer saw the members wearing body armor leaving in seven SUVs.
It was not clear if the team headed to the suburb where the alleged attack occurred.
The photographer said U.N. disarmament chief Angela Kane saw them as they leave but did not go with them on Monday morning.
Syrian activists and opposition leaders have said that between 322 and 1,300 people were killed in the alleged chemical attack on Wednesday.
Syria said Sunday that a U.N. team could investigate the site but a senior White House official dismissed the deal as "too late to be credible."
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Asian stocks subdued before earnings reports
UNDATED (AP) -- Asian shares were subdued today despite an improvement in China's manufacturing as a wait-and-see mood prevailed ahead of earnings reports from some of the region's top companies.
WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- (Marketwired) -- 03/21/14 --
Companies that pride themselves on being eco-friendly may have conflicted
ideas between marketing with ad specialties and maintaining their green
"DOWNTON ABBEY" - ALLEN LEECH
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- Allen Leech wants fans to be excited about "Downton Abbey" without pestering him for details that ruin everything.
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- The New Jersey Turnpike Authority wants to take a bite out of a Florida pizza shop.
IN THE NEWS: PASSPORT COMPUTER DATABASE CRASHES
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Those waiting for passports may have a problem on their hands -- because of a problem the federal government is having with one of its computers.
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