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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN Envoys Begin Talks on Syria

August 28, 2013

by VOA News

Diplomats at the United Nations have begun talks on a resolution proposed by Britain to condemn the Syrian government's alleged chemical attack on civilians.

Envoys from the U.S., France, Russia, China and Britain are debating the proposal, which demands "necessary measures to protect civilians" in Syria from chemical weapons.

Britain is seeking a U.N. Security Council vote on the resolution.

The proposal is part of an international diplomatic effort by the U.S. and Western powers before possible military action against President Bashar al-Assad.

A U.N. team conducting an on-site investigation of the alleged gas attack in suburban Damascus wrapped up its work for Wednesday, but U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the team will need four days to complete its probe.

Ban is in The Hague, where he discussed efforts to convene a political conference on Syria with Russian deputy foreign minister Gennadiy Gatilov. He also urged the U.N. Security Council to "find unity" on the situation in Syria.

Russia, an Assad ally, says Britain's proposed U.N. resolution is premature. The Interfax news agency says Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov urged Britain to wait until U.N. inspectors presented their findings before considering any response.

The Syrian government has denied having any role in last week's alleged gas attack, which left hundreds dead.

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Maqdad blamed Western-backed "terrorists" for the incidents.

"Armed terrorist groups used Sarin gas in all these sites, and we repeat that the terrorist groups are the ones who used them with American, British and French encouragement," he said. "This encouragement should stop."

In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said information from a variety of sources indicated the Syrian regime was responsible for chemical weapons attacks.

He said any use of chemical weapons could "not go unanswered."

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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