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UN’s big five open talks on Syrian chemical arms resolution

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The five permanent members of the UN Security Council have been meeting to discuss a resolution aimed at eradicating Syria's chemical weapons arsenal. UN chief Ban Ki-moon has urged powers to unite to resolve the crisis.

Diplomats from the P5 countries - Britain, China, France, Russia and the US - launched talks on Tuesday to agree on a resolution to strip Syria of its chemical weapons supplies.

After nearly an hour of initial talks, it was agreed that the five should meet again on Wednesday.

A French text, including a demand for action under Chapter VII of the UN Charter should fail to adhere to the plan, was among the options on the table. France has also said it wants chemical weapons attacks in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Western powers have said they believe the Syrian government was behind an attack near to Damascus last month, in which the nerve agent sarin is believed to have been used. Washington claims some 1,400 people died in the attack. Russia has said that it thinks the attacks were carried out by rebels.

Chapter VII covers the Security Council's authority to enforce resolutions, including the use of force. However, while agreeing a disarmament plan with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there should be no inclusion of a military threat.

'Tip of the iceberg'

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters that he would urge the foreign ministers of all five countries to take joint action on the 30-month crisis. Ban said he would meet the five next week, when world leaders gather for a UN General Assembly summit.

Ban said the use of chemical weapons - most notably - was only the "tip of the iceberg."

He told the press conference that it was important to take a "broader" look at Syrian conflict, with a view to stemming the violence and addressing the mounting refugee problem.


September 18 2013, 10:23

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