Russia and US agree draft UN resolution to rid Syria of chemical weapons in 'important diplomatic step'

 

The UN Security Council could vote as soon as Friday night after Russia and the US agreed a draft resolution to rid Syria of chemical weapons, according to diplomats in New York.

They said a meeting would be called at midnight, 8pm local time, to discuss the resolution which is seen a “key step” in a US-Russian plan to eliminate Syria’s arsenal by mid-2014.

That followed a lunchtime meeting when wording for the agreement was decided by foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, together with the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

The five nations are veto-holding members of the 15-strong Security Council. The remaining members of the council are due to be told of the agreement later.

The development was described by the Foreign Secretary William Hague as an “important diplomatic step” and the British ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall, said it was a “binding and enforceable” draft of the resolution to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. 

According to Mr Lyall, the lunchtime meeting had seen discussions also focus on “humanitarian access” and “political transition” in Syria.

The agreement followed reports that Russia was unswayed by the US and China’s demands for a quickly adopted resolution. When asked if diplomats were close to a deal on a Syria resolution, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters earlier: “Russia's very close, the US is not.”

The US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power confirmed that the last hurdles to agreement had been overcome.

She said the draft resolution established that Syria's chemical weapons were a “threat to international peace” and would create a “new norm against the use” of chemical weapons.

The US, backed by France and Britain, had pushed for a resolution carrying the threat of military action – a threat opposed by Russia.

But the US Secretary of State John Kerry Mr Lavrov met in hastily scheduled, closed-door talks shortly before the agreement was announced.

Mr Lavrov later said the agreement did not involve immediate enforcement under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, which allows the use of military force. A second UN resolution authorising such a move would be needed, he added.

France, the UK and the US insist chemical weapons attacks, using the nerve agent Sarin, carried out in the Ghouta region of Damascus on 21 August could only have been launched by Government forces.

But Russia said Moscow has “serious grounds” to believe the attack was a “provocation” by rebel forces, an argument also stated by President Bashar al-Assad.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

MBDA UK Ltd: Mission Planning and Control Solutions Systems Engineer

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? A pro-act...

MBDA UK Ltd: System Design Capability

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? The small...

Recruitment Genius: Production / Manufacturing Operative

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading garage door manufacturer are curr...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software / Solution Sales

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a thri...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific