UN Powers Begin Talks on Syria Resolution
Diplomats from the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China launched negotiations on Tuesday on a Western-drafted resolution that would demand the destruction of Syria's chemical arsenal in line with a U.S.-Russian deal agreed last weekend.
Nearly an hour of initial talks ended with an agreement to meet again on Wednesday, diplomats told the Reuters news agency.
Tuesday's meeting came a day after UN investigators confirmed the use of sarin nerve agent in an August 21 poison gas attack outside the Syrian capital. The United States, Britain and France said the long-awaited UN report proved beyond any doubt that Syrian government forces were responsible.
Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said the five permanent members of the UN Security Council were discussing a joint U.S.-British-French draft but declined to comment at length.
"In order to respect the integrity of these negotiations, we will not be reading out the details of today's meeting or the draft resolution," she said, according to Reuters.
Britain's UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told Reuters that the five would hold further consultations soon.
"The P5 had a discussion of the text but we will be meeting again," he said after the meeting at the U.S. mission ended. "Obviously everyone has to put it back to their capitals and then we'll have a further discussion tomorrow."
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin also declined to comment in detail, saying, "I don't have any initial reaction" to the Western draft resolution.
"We're doing a very important thing," Churkin told Reuters. "We originated a very important proposal and we hope it's going to be implemented without any interference."
The resolution is intended to support a U.S.-Russian deal agreed in Geneva on Saturday which calls for Syria to account fully for its chemical weapons within a week and for the removal and destruction of the entire arsenal by mid-2014.
That deal was agreed after President Barack Obama threatened to launch air U.S. strikes against Syria because of the August 21 gas attack.