UN to adopt unanimous resolution – Syria
The UN Security Council is set to adopt a resolution on Friday on Syria chemical arsenal.
UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council is set to adopt a resolution on Friday on eradicating Syria's chemical arsenal after Russia and the United States overcame a bitter deadlock to avert US military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.
Amid newfound unity of the veto-wielding council members - Russia, China, France, the United States and Britain - French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he hoped a date would also be agreed on Friday for so-called Geneva 2 peace talks on Syria.
"I hope we will be able to set a date so that Geneva 2 can finally take place because the only solution is political. We moved forward on the chemical side but people are continuing to kill each other on the ground," Fabius told reporters.
The five big UN powers are due to meet Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and international Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi on Friday on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly. Diplomats said if a date was set for the peace talks in Geneva, it would likely be November, as October appeared too ambitious.
UN diplomats said the full 15-member Security Council was expected to vote on the chemical weapons resolution at 8 p.m. (0000 GMT) on Friday. It will also be the first time the council formally endorses a plan for a political transition in Syria agreed at an international conference in Geneva in June 2012.
US President Barack Obama said the draft UN resolution was a "potentially huge victory for the international community" and described it as legally binding, verifiable and enforceable.
A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the resolution deflected attention from Obama's wavering on the Syrian conflict. "For the US, this resolution turns the attention away from its powerlessness," he said.
Assad agreed to destroy Syria's chemical weapons following global outrage over a sarin gas attack in the Damascus suburbs last month - the world's deadliest chemical attack in 25 years.
Western powers blame Assad, while Assad's government and its close ally, Russia, say the rebels were responsible.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia continued to work "energetically" to help convene Syria peace talks.
"People continue to die and peaceful civilians suffer every day in Syria," he told the UN General Assembly. "Virtually the only possibility today to put an end to this turmoil is to move from a deadlock to the process of political settlement of the Syrian crisis."
As a precursor to the UN vote, the 41-member Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons approved a decision in The Hague on Friday laying out procedures to rapidly verify and destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. The decision will see inspectors sent to Syria starting Tuesday.