Obama 'respect' for Cameron stance
US President Barack Obama told David Cameron he "fully respected" the approach the Prime Minister has taken over Syria in a telephone call, Downing Street has said.
The PM insisted he still wants to see a strong response to the chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus during the 15-minute discussion following the humiliating Commons defeat that has ended any possibility of British military intervention.
It comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry laid the blame for the atrocity firmly with Bashar Assad and put the death toll at 1,429, including 426 children. In a passionate speech in Washington, he warned "history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator" as he argued the evidence against the regime was "compelling". President Obama insisted he was undecided about the prospect of US military action but said any action would be "limited".
High profile figures have warned that Britain's international standing has been undermined by the vote and Mr Kerry's decision to pointedly refer to France as "our oldest ally" will be viewed as a sign of Washington's irritation at the position.
But Downing Street insisted the US special relationship was still intact. A No 10 spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister and President Obama spoke this evening to discuss the response to last week's chemical attack in Syria. The PM made clear that he strongly believes in the need for a tough and robust response to the appalling war crime committed by the Assad regime in Ghouta.
"The PM explained that he wanted to build a consensual approach in Britain for our response and that the Government had accepted the clear view of the House against British military action. President Obama said he fully respected the PM's approach and that he had not yet taken a decision on the US response.
"The President stressed his appreciation of his strong friendship with the Prime Minister and of the strength, durability and depth of the special relationship between our two countries. They agreed that their co-operation on international issues would continue in the future and both reiterated their determination to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict by bringing all sides together."
The Prime Minister was forced to drop plans for the potential use of British forces in strikes against Syria after MPs - including 30 Tory rebels - rejected a motion indicating that military action could be required to protect Syrian civilians.
Setting out the approach he would now take to Syria, the Prime Minister said: "I think it's important we have a robust response to the use of chemical weapons and there are a series of things we will continue to do. We will continue to take a case to the United Nations, we will continue to work in all the organisations we are members of - whether the EU, or Nato, or the G8 or the G20 - to condemn what's happened in Syria. It's important we uphold the international taboo on the use of chemical weapons."
A statement from the White House said: "The president spoke with Prime Minister Cameron ... as part of their continuing consultations on the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons on August 21, which they agree is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. As always, the United States values the special relationship with the United Kingdom, a close ally and friend. The president and Prime Minister agreed to continue to consult closely on Syria and the broad range of security challenges that our two countries face together."