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France, Russia admit ‘differences’ over Syria

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-17

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow on Tuesday, where the two conceded their differences on Syria but stressed the importance of moving forward with diplomatic efforts.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday, where the pair acknowledged their differences on Syria but stressed the importance of moving forward with a UN resolution to place the country’s stockpiles of chemical weapons under international control.

TOP FIVE TO MEET IN NEW YORK

Diplomats from the US, UK, Russia, France and China are to meet in New York on Tuesday September 24 to discuss a Western-drafted resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons.

The talks came one day after the United Nations released a highly anticipated report confirming that the deadly nerve agent sarin gas had been used in an attack outside Syria’s capital Damascus on August 21. Although the report did not assign blame, France, Britain and the United States seized upon it, saying there was "little doubt" Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces were responsible for the onslaught.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Lavrov following their meeting, Fabius reiterated his country’s stance on the issue.

“When you look at the amount of sarin gas used, the vectors, the techniques behind such an attack, as well as other aspects, it seems to leave no doubt that the (Assad) regime is behind it,” Fabius said.

Lavrov, however, gave a different version of events, saying Russia had “very serious grounds” to believe rebel forces in Syria were responsible for the attack. He also said that the UN report had left many questions unanswered.

The two countries also emphasised their shared commitment to a diplomatic solution in Syria, while conceding their diverging positions.

“We have certain differences on how to reach this [aim],” Fabius explained.

One such difference could be Russia’s insistence that a UN resolution not be made under Chapter 7, which allows for the possibility of both military and non-military sanctions.

"The resolution... will not invoke Chapter 7," Lavrov stated, adding that this had already been made clear at US-Russia talks in Geneva last week.

Date created : 2013-09-17

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