Tue, Sep 17, 2013 - Page 6 News List

US, France, UK seek tough Syria resolution

CHEMICAL ATTACK:The UN chief was to present a report yesterday that was expected to ‘overwhelmingly’ confirm that Syria used chemical weapons on Aug. 21

Reuters, PARIS

A man holds the body of a dead child among bodies of people activists say were killed by nerve gas in the Ghouta region in the Duma neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, on Aug. 21.

Photo: Reuters

France, Britain and the US agreed at three-way Paris talks yesterday to seek a “strong and robust” UN resolution that sets precise and binding deadlines on removal of chemical weapons, the office of French President Francois Hollande said.

The statement followed talks involving the foreign ministers of the three countries and Hollande in the French capital, two days after Russia and the US hammered out a deal on chemical weapons that could avert US military action.

“The idea is to stick to a firm line,” an official at Hollande’s office said after the talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and French counterpart Laurent Fabius.

“They’ve agreed to seek a strong and rubust resolution that sets precise and binding deadlines with a calendar,” said the official, who declined to be named.

Overcoming bitter differences, Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov struck a deal in Geneva on Saturday on removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical arsenal, in a move that may avert US military action.

After months in which Moscow and Washington failed to agree a line on Syria, Kerry and Lavrov demanded al-Assad account for his secret stockpile within a week and let international inspectors eliminate all the weapons by the middle of next year.

Under the terms of the agreement between the US and Russia, the UN Security Council — on which Russia has a veto — will oversee the process.

The agreement states that a UN Security Council resolution should allow for regular assessments of Syria’s behavior and “in the event of non-compliance ... the UN Security Council should impose measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.”

Chapter VII can include force, but can be limited to other kinds of sanction.

When Kerry said the council “must” impose measures under Chapter VII, Lavrov interrupted to point out that the agreed text says only it “should” impose penalties.

The French official said the goal was to get quick agreement on a resolution at UN headquarters.

“We must make progress in New York,” the official said, adding that the hope was to come up with something that could be put to a vote before the end of this week.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-

General Ban Ki-moon was to present a report yesterday on Syria’s chemical weapons, increasing pressure on al-Assad’s regime.

Ban was to unveil the findings of a UN investigation team to the Security Council in New York at 11:15am. He has already revealed that he expects the report to provide “overwhelming” confirmation that chemical arms were used in an attack near Damascus on Aug. 21 in which hundreds of people died.

Additional reporting by AFP

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