'Deal reached' on Syria resolution
The five permanent members of the divided Security Council appear to have reached agreement on a resolution to require Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons stockpiles, UN diplomats said.
Their comments came a day after Russia's deputy foreign minister said negotiators had overcome a major hurdle and agreed that the resolution would include a reference to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows for military and non-military actions to promote peace and security. The UN diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations have been private.
The five veto-wielding members of the Security Council - France, Britain, Russia, China and the US - have been discussing for weeks what to include in a new resolution requiring that Syria's chemical weapons be secured and dismantled. The US and Russia had been at odds on how to enforce the resolution.
Russia's deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov, stressed on Wednesday that the resolution will not include an automatic trigger for measures under Chapter 7, which means the council will have to follow up with another resolution if Syria fails to comply.
The flurry of diplomatic activity is in response to an August 21 poison gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians in a Damascus suburb, and president Barack Obama's threat of US strikes in response.
After secretary of state John Kerry said Syria president Bashar Assad could avert US military action by turning over "every single bit of his chemical weapons" to international control within a week, Russia, Syria's most important ally, and Assad's government quickly agreed on a broad proposal.
Mr Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, signed an agreement in Geneva on September 14, but it has taken time and tough negotiations to work out the details.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said a few subjects needed to be refined on an agreement but expressed optimism about a deal. "Things have advanced," he told reporters.
China has joined Russia in the past on blocking resolutions against Syria over its civil war that has killed more than 100,000.
But Mr Kerry on Thursday said Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi had "strong agreement on the need for a mandatory and binding UN Security Council resolution. They discussed the value of unity among the P5, and both felt it is important to act quickly", a US official said.
But, the official added, the Chinese gave no indication about whether they would support a resolution that the US and Russia agreed to, if one was agreed on.