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UN powers progress on Syria draft

26th Sep 2013

There are signs the U-N’s five permanent security council members could be close to agreeing a resolution to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. The main points of a draft have reportedly been agreed, but Russia and the U-S still need to discuss the issue of sanctions.

The permanent powers – the US, Russia, China, France, and Great Britain – met on Wednesday to iron out the details of a resolution on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stocks.

While some Western diplomatic sources said there was overall agreement on the core principles of the text, others were more circumspect.

“It seems that things are moving forward,” said one source, who said there was “an agreement among the five on the core.” He added: “We are closer on all the key points.”

One US source was more cautious, noting that further work was needed. “We’re making progress, but we’re not done yet,” the official told the Reuters news agency.

A spokesman for the Russian delegation was dismissive of the Western suggestion that key agreements had been reached. “It’s just their wishful thinking,” he told Reuters. “It is not the reality. The work on the draft resolution is still going on.”

Ban’s call for urgency

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had earlier pressed the five permanent members of the Security Council to overcome their differences on the wider Syrian conflict and to agree a resolution that dealt with chemicals weapons.

Ban hosted a lunch with the foreign ministers of the major powers, discussing a Russian and US plan to destroy Syria’s chemical weapon stocks, as well as proposals for a peace conference to be held in Geneva.

“They exchanged views on the timing and other aspects of the peace conference to be held in Geneva,” said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky. “The secretary general and the ministers underlined the importance of heightened efforts to resolve the humanitarian crisis both inside Syria and in the neighboring countries.”

The US claims that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were behind a sarin gas attack in a Damascus suburb that killed more than 1,400 people. Until the agreement with Russia, Washington had threatened the use of military action in response to the incident.

However, Russia claims that the rebels were behind the attack. Moscow has demanded that any resolution should not invoke Chapter 7 of the UN Charter – which provides for military as well as non-military enforcement.

China and Russia – who as permanent members of the Security Council have a veto on resolutions – have blocked three previous efforts to pass a text that condemned al-Assad over the force of the crackdown by his military during the past two-and-a-half years of conflict in the country.

rc/ccp (AFP, Reuters)

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Sectarianism in the Middle East and its rise in the UK, Standpoint, Sahar TV. Interview 29 May 2013 and aired on 12 June 2013

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