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Middle east

Diplomatic push for ‘strong’ UN resolution on Syria

© FRANCE 24 screen grab

Video by Joseph TANDY

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-16

France, Britain and the United States have said that they will push for a “strong” UN resolution on placing Syria’s chemical weapons under international control, following a meeting of their foreign ministers in Paris on Monday.

France, Britain and the US will push for a for a “strong” UN resolution on placing Syria’s chemical weapons under international control, the three countries said after they met for talks in Paris on Monday. They also agreed to step up their support of Syrian opposition forces fighting against President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that the three countries would push for a UN resolution that would include “serious consequences” if Syria fails to comply with the precise terms dictating the handover of its stockpiles of chemical weapons.

The talks came just two days after US Secretary of State John Kerry reached an agreement with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on placing Syria’s chemical weapons under international control in an effort to avert a threatened US military strike.

Kerry stressed the importance of maintaining pressure on Assad in order to ensure that the US-Russia deal succeeds.

"Each of us here today are here to emphasise the same thing, that what we achieved in this agreement has to be translated into a UN resolution, it has to be strong, it has to forceful, it has to be real, it has to be transparent, it has to be timely, all of those things are critical, and it has to be enforced.

"If the Assad regime believes that this is not enforceable and we are not serious, they will play games," Kerry said.

"If Assad fails to comply with the framework we are all agreed that there will be consequences," he added, echoing his French counterpart.

The Russian foreign minister, however, sounded a note of caution, saying that European calls for a UN resolution threatening potential punishment for Syria showed a “lack of understanding” of the US-Russian deal and urged the US not to renege on the terms of the agreement.

"Our [European] partners want to again unilaterally review what we've agreed on with the Americans,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow following Monday’s talks in Paris.

“That's not how you do business, and I'm sure that despite these statements [coming from] European capitals, the Americans will, as proper negotiators, strictly stick to what has been agreed on.”

The need for a ‘strong opposition’

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Fabius also announced there would be a major international meeting with leaders of Syria’s main opposition body, the Syrian National Coalition, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.

"We know that in order to negotiate a political solution, there has to be a strong opposition," Fabius said.

French officials said Russia had been invited to the conference.

Kerry added that the allies were "committed to the opposition," saying Assad had "lost all legitimacy to be possible to govern his country."

The signal of support for the rebels came in reaction to criticism of the chemical weapons deal from opposition leaders, who fear it could consolidate Assad's grip on power.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-09-16

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