UNGA President John W. Ashe: Geneva II needed more than ever

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A second Geneva peace conference on the Syrian conflict deserves a chance to take place, now more than ever, President of the U.N. General Assembly John W. Ashe has said.

In an interview with Al Arabiya’s New York/U.N. Bureau Chief Talal al-Haj aired on Monday, the U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda emphasized the importance of caution when discussing potential military action against Syria.

“I think what we need to do is to give the Geneva process a chance, certainly I think the Geneva II is needed now more than ever,” Ashe said.

Talks on whether prospects for resuming the Syrian peace process by holding a second Geneva meeting have been dependent on the outcome of the chemical weapons talks regarding the Aug. 21 attack on a Damascus suburb.

On Saturday, Syria completed the handover of an inventory of its chemical stockpile according to a deadline laid out in a U.S.-Russian disarmament plan.

The world’s chemical weapons watchdog, OPCW, will oversee the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile.

Damascus had until Saturday to supply details of its arsenal, in line with a U.S.-Russian plan that helped prevent targeted military action, by the U.S., on regime targets.

When asked by Al Arabiya’s Haj if the success of Geneva II requires advancement in the chemical weapons talks, Ashe replied:

“That could be a possibility, but by the same token, shouldn’t we at least make an attempt to get an agreement in place in the Security Council, [which has] the force of law and then see what can be done about destorying those weapons before we move to the next stage of a strike.

“Let’s face it, if there is a strike you will destroy the weapons and that will have unintended consequences,” he further explained.

Meanwhile, Ashe said the Syrian opposition’s attempt to apply for a seat on the U.N. GA is possible, but approval by permanent members remains a requirement.

“Well anything is possible, including making a direct request to the GA via its credentials committee, but one then has to look at the composition of the committee, it also includes members of the Security Council and they are three, Russia, the United States and China, so you would have to have a consensus recommendation coming out of the credentials committee before the general assembly would consider it.”

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