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New resolution on pandemic truce being drafted at UN: diplomats

A proposal to submit a new resolution on a global ceasefire was put forward during a teleconference held behind closed doors and organized by Estonia, which holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council
A proposal to submit a new resolution on a global ceasefire was put forward during a teleconference held behind closed doors and organized by Estonia, which holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council Angela Weiss AFP/File
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United Nations (United States) (AFP)

Germany and Estonia plan to submit a resolution to the UN Security Council on a global ceasefire during the coronavirus pandemic, to replace one drafted by France and Tunisia that the United States has blocked, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.

The proposal was put forward Tuesday during a teleconference held behind closed doors and organized by Estonia, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council.

"We have to turn the page," said one diplomat, who asked not to be named.

Germany and Estonia, both of them non-permanent members of the Security Council, "want to circulate a text which they have" drafted, another diplomat said.

Like the French-Tunisian proposal, the new resolution would focus on a call for a ceasefire in various conflicts around the world to give warring countries the chance to tackle the deadly pandemic.

The new text would draw on many of the points made in the earlier iteration but would be shorter and "more concise," diplomats said.

One of the diplomats said China declared in Tuesday's meeting that it backed swift action in the council that would end in a result.

On Saturday, a Chinese diplomat said Washington bore "full responsibility" for the French and Tunisian draft being stymied.

Washington stunned the council on Friday by blocking the resolution from going forward.

Washington's reversal came a day after it had agreed to the text, negotiators said on condition of anonymity.

"In our view, the goal should be to support the Secretary-General's call for a global ceasefire," the US State Department said at the time.

It added that the Security Council "should either proceed with a resolution limited to support for a ceasefire, or a broadened resolution" that addressed the issues of transparency and responsibility. The State Department also accused Beijing of blocking any efforts to reach consensus since March.

Washington had threatened to use its veto if there were any explicit reference to the World Health Organization, which President Donald Trump has accused of downplaying the seriousness of the outbreak in China.

Diplomats say that at the same time, Beijing had brandished its own veto if the global health body were not mentioned, before ultimately accepting that it would not be.

"We must find a way out from this deadlock," said Estonia's ambassador to the UN, Sven Jurgenson, without confirming that his country had co-authored a new draft with Germany.

"It is (a) real shame that we, the Security Council, have not been able to fulfill our responsibility on this matter," he told AFP.

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