UN Security Council powers meet again on Syria; no outcome

UK Ambassador to the UN Sir Mark Lyall Grant hopes Russia is "prepared to support" the British draft resolution on Syria.

By MAYA SHWAYDER JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
August 30, 2013 01:04
2 minute read.
United Nations Security Council

United Nations Security Council 311 (R). (photo credit: Mike Segar / Reuters)

The representatives of the five members of the United Nations Security Council emerged from their conference room after meeting for merely an hour on Thursday to discuss an action plan regarding the crisis in Syria.

The Russian delegation called another emergency meeting for Thursday afternoon,  a day after the UK delegation presented a draft resolution to the P5 to officially condemn the Assad regime in Syria for using chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict.

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That resolution was ultimately not voted on.

When asked earlier on Thursday what the meeting was for and whether Russia would be presenting their own draft resolution, UK Ambassador to the UN Sir Mark Lyall Grant said, "the Russians have called this P5 meeting, I hope that means they are now prepared to support the British draft resolution."

When asked what might happen if the Russians presented their own draft, Grant said, "We'll have to see."

A while later, Australian Ambassador Gary Quinlan emerged from a different meeting in the UN Security Council chambers with US Ambassador Samantha Power and said "I'm going to make a few phone calls."

Power did not speak to the press, nor did current Security Council President Maria Cristina Perceval of Argentina.

The United Nations has received at least 14 reports of possible chemical weapons use in Syria. After months of diplomatic wrangling, a team of experts, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, arrived in Syria on August 18.

The UN team was initially going to look into three incidents, but its priority became investigating an alleged gas attack in the rebel-held suburbs of Damascus last week, which activists say killed hundreds of civilians.

Spokesman for the Secretary General Farhan Haq told reporters that the UN chemical weapons investigative team will wrap up their work in Syria by Saturday morning and will distribute the "extensive amount of material" that they have gathered to "several different laboratory sites in Europe."

Haq remained adamant that the inspectors "have not taken it as a forgone conclusion that they [chemical weapons] have been used."

Haq also said that secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, who is expected to arrive back in New York from the Netherlands on Thursday evening, will begin speaking with representatives from UN members states.

Russia called for an immediate conference of the UN Security Council on the crisis unfolding in Syria for Thursday afternoon, following Wednesday's inconclusive meeting on the matter.

The meeting came as multiple US government officials told The Jerusalem Post that the United States believed any language put forth to the Security Council for a resolution on Syria is "dead on arrival."

"We've seen two years of Russian intransigence" on Syria, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Thursday.

"I don't know why we would expect a shift today."

Michael Wilner and Reuters contributed to this report


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