UN Powers Discuss Security Council Resolution On Syria
September 18, 2013
The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have met in New York to discuss a resolution on Syria but conceded afterward that the effort failed to make much headway.
A resolution is seen as a key step in a U.S.-Russia plan to destroy Syria's chemical-weapons arsenal within a year.
Diplomats said the UN envoys from Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States made little progress at the hourlong talks on a draft resolution on September 17 but would meet again on September 18.
The draft was put forward by Britain, France, and the United States.
London, Paris, and Washington want a resolution that leaves the door open to the use of force if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not keep to the disarmament plan, while Russia opposes this.
The disagreements were highlighted at a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, in Moscow earlier on September 17.
Fabius said there was “no doubt” that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical-weapons attack near Damascus last month.
“If we look at the amount of sarin used, the targets and the equipment that was needed, and other aspects, then we have no hesitations that the Syrian regime is behind these attacks on the 21st of August," Fabius said.
Lavrov rejected this argument and called for further investigation of the attack.
"We have serious grounds to believe that this was a provocation [by the rebels], and [yet] some of our partners have categorically stated that only the [Syrian] regime could have been the one that used these chemical weapons," the Russian minister said.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki dismissed Lavrov's comments, saying: "He's swimming against the tide of international public opinion, but more importantly, the facts."
A UN report published on September 16 confirmed that the sarin nerve agent had been used in a rocket attack on August 21. The report, however, assigned no responsibility.
Meanwhile in Damascus, Russian media said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov discussed on September 17 with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem the plan to dismantle chemical weapons.
Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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